Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Police Reform Must Include Accountability for Police Departments Across the Country
Press Release

RELEASE: Police Reform Must Include Accountability for Police Departments Across the Country

Washington, D.C. — The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have focused the country on the ways police reform in the United States has failed. While policymakers and legislators are proposing more trainings and task forces, a new column released today by the Center for American Progress underscores that any effort that does not establish stringent accountability structures will only preserve the status quo.

“We don’t need any more studies or commissions on policing reform; we need accountability of police officers and police departments,” said Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress and author of the column. “Any reform package—whether from Congress or from city councils—must include meaningful police accountability measures; otherwise, it’s a wasted effort.”

Improving police training and policy changes should not be discarded, but they were never designed to be the totality of police reforms. Rather, accountability for police departments should be at the center of this debate, according to the column, despite opposition from police unions and traditional “law and order” promoters who have successfully advocated for statutory barriers to accountability.

Elected leaders must exhibit political will and prioritize the concerns of the communities most affected by police violence. Lawmakers can end statutory barriers to accountability through the following proposals:

  1. Amending criminal statutes governing excessive uses of force to hold police officers accountable for reckless behavior
  2. Providing police no greater due process than civilians suspected and accused of criminal acts by repealing “police bill of rights” legislation
  3. Cross-designating state attorneys general to investigate patterns and practices of misconduct
  4. Ending qualified immunity protection for law enforcement officers

Read the column: “Beyond the Status Quo: Police Reform Must Bring About Meaningful Accountability” by Ed Chung

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For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at cmontecinos@americanprogress.org.