Resolution on the Urgent Need for Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability

NACDL’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution calling for transparency and accountability of law enforcement. 

WHEREAS NACDL’s mission is to identify and reform flaws, inequities, and systemic racism that plague the criminal legal system. This uniquely positions NACDL to promote law enforcement transparency and accountability;

WHEREAS laws and policies that impede law enforcement transparency and accountability perpetuate harmful law enforcement practices and cultures that endanger the very communities served, particularly communities of color;

WHEREAS greater public awareness of widespread law enforcement misconduct will promote needed reforms and assist defenders and clients during representation in the criminal legal system; and

WHEREAS NACDL has convened a Task Force to research, evaluate, and address issues of law enforcement transparency and accountability.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that NACDL recognizes the urgent need for law enforcement transparency and accountability;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL will advocate for the repeal of law enforcement secrecy laws, the creation of publicly accessible electronic databases of law enforcement records (including misconduct records and records that track officer movement through different police agencies), and the enactment of stronger decertification statutes that prevent officers from evading accountability for misconduct;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL believes the doctrine of qualified immunity – created and expanded by the judiciary to shield law enforcement officers from accountability for misconduct – should be abolished;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL will promote mechanisms for effective oversight and discipline of police officers, such as civilian review boards, officer employment tracking databases, and open records laws;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL will continue to recommend and support reforms that foster timely, thorough, and meaningful disclosures by prosecutors’ offices of information potentially helpful to the accused, including officer “do not call” lists and other Brady material related to officer conduct and employment history;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL will recommend and support reforms advancing law enforcement standards that protect communities and seek to end harmful police practices;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL will educate the public and legal community about law enforcement misconduct and the importance of law enforcement accountability and transparency;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACDL opposes judicial and prosecutorial complicity in law enforcement misconduct and believes that officers should be held to the same legal standards as the general public regarding, inter alia, perjury and prosecution;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, consistent with the fundamental constitutional principles of the presumption of innocence, the right to effective counsel, and the right to due process, NACDL embraces its responsibility to denounce police brutality and misconduct and policies and practices that facilitate such misconduct; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT NACDL commits to a plan of action in four areas:

  1. educating the defense bar on litigation strategies to access police misconduct records, expose acts of police brutality and misconduct, and promote law enforcement transparency and accountability;
  2. supporting the collection and dissemination of police misconduct data, including “do-not-call” lists maintained by prosecutorial agencies;
  3. identifying areas in need of reform and supporting efforts to achieve them; and 
  4. educating the defense bar on the critical importance of identifying and preserving criminal defendants' civil rights claims and developing relationships with experienced civil rights litigators and/or building civil rights practices of their own.

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