Actions State and Local Officials in the United States Should Take To Address Police Reforms

Publicly state that they will not ask the U.S. Department of Defense to have active duty U.S. military personnel provide assistance in responding to protests or demonstrations.

Actions State and Local Officials in the United States Should Take To Address Police Reforms

A protestor faces off with law enforcement during a protest on May 31, 2020, in Ferguson, Missouri. | Getty/Michael B. Thomas

Washington, D.C. — After the country has been shaken by several cases of police brutality against Black Americans, including the tragic killings of George FloydBreonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, discussion gravitates once more toward the role of the police in U.S. communities, systemic racism, and the need for transformation of the justice systems. A memo published today by the Center for American Progress highlights the immediate actions state and local officials should take to address reform and respond to protests.

“The killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests against police brutality has brought back a debate that never left us: What is and should be the role of police in our communities across America?”, said Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress. “These are questions that communities across the country have not grappled with or considered in depth, so we continue to see the same problems and tragedies surface again and again.”

Key immediate actions governors and mayors should take are:

  1. De-escalate. De-escalation is a cornerstone of policing reform and must drive police responses not only in individual interactions but also when faced with mass demonstrations.

  2. Publicly state that they will not ask the U.S. Department of Defense to have active duty U.S. military personnel provide assistance in responding to protests or demonstrations.

  3. Require officers responding to demonstrations to practice physical distancing. The country is still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and policing practices must change and adapt to these circumstances. This includes reducing custodial arrests as well as citing and releasing people if necessary.

  4. Provide transparency by publicizing the protocols for investigating and prosecuting police brutality cases in conjunction with the police department and district attorney. If those protocols are deficient or nonexistent, announce immediate steps to develop them in cooperation with members of impacted communities.

  5. Establish law enforcement misconduct databases at the local and state levels. 

Read CAP’s memo, “Immediate Actions by State and Local Officials on Police Reforms and Responding to Demonstrations and Protests.”

Related resources:

What We Should Expect of the Police: Experts Weigh In on Recent Police Violence” by Ed Chung and Betsy Pearl
Expanding the Authority of State Attorneys General to Combat Police Misconduct” by Connor Maxwell and Danyelle Solomon
Policing During the Coronavirus Pandemic” by Ed Chung, Betsy Pearl, and Lea Hunter
The Intersection of Policing and Race” by Danyelle Solomon
The Trump Administration is Putting DOJ Police Reforms at Risk” by Ed Chung