BlogLine

A Summary of the Standards for Certification on Safe Policing as Outlined by the Department of Justice

2/1/21

By: Jake Loken

The United States Department of Justice recently outlined the “Safe Policing” standards required for law enforcement agencies to receive discretionary federal grants.  Under the Executive Order (https://www.fmglaw.com/FMGBlogLine/government-law/a-summary-of-the-executive-order-on-policing-and-instances-of-misconduct/), the Attorney General sets the “standards for certification,” while “independent credentialing bodies” confirm that the standards have been met before funding. Broadly, the standards require that the agency maintain (1) use of force policies that adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and (2) use of force policies that prohibit the use of choke holds, except in situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.  If these standards are confirmed, an agency is qualified to receive grant funding for up to 36 months from the date of certification, or the lifecycle of any grants awarded.

During the certification process, the independent credentialing body “should—but is not required to—consider whether the . . . agency incorporates the following safe policing principles within its policies and procedures” that relate to the following: (1) when use of force should terminate, specifically a policy “when it is objectively reasonable that a subject is fully in law enforcement’s control, then the force must terminate”; (2) when officers have a duty to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force by another officer; (3) instruction on the use of force, de-escalation techniques, and legal updates; (4) when an officer should provide medical care; (5) instructions on officers identifying themselves as law enforcement officers and to give verbal warning before the use of deadly force; (6) shooting at or from a moving vehicle; (7) warning shots; and (8) use and execution of no-knock warrants.  Other standards to be considered by the independent credentialing body are: (1) human resource policies and procedures that develop human capital, protect due process for officers, and encourage the identification of personnel who are becoming, or likely to become, at risk to violate use of force or other policies or procedures; (2) policies and procedures that hire and promote only those employees who are the best available candidate for a position; and (3) implementation of community engagement plans addressing the particular needs of the community being served.

For law enforcement agencies in Georgia, for example, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP) has been identified as an independent credentialing body, and details regarding how a law enforcement agency in Georgia can become certified under the standards outlined by the Department of Justice can be found here: https://gachiefs.com/safe-policing-for-safe-communities-certification/

If you have any questions about the Executive Order, the Department of Justice standards, or other government-related matters, please contact Jake Loken at [email protected] or any other member of FMG’s Government Law Section.