Police Oversight & Accountability

The ACS State Attorneys General Project develops, collects, and disseminates legal resources highlighting and examining the authority and actions of state attorneys general in key policy areas. This page collects resources related to police oversight and accountability.

California

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Becerra Calls for Broad Police Reforms and Proactive Efforts to Protect Lives (June 15, 2020).

“The proposals build on work by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) under Attorney General Becerra’s leadership, including several pattern-or-practice investigations and collaborative reform initiatives.”

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Expand Authority of State Attorneys General Under Federal Law to Conduct Police Department Investigations (June 5, 2020).

California Attorney GeneralLetter to Congressional Leaders (June 5, 2020).

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice, Stockton Unified School District Enter into Agreement to Address Discriminatory Treatment of Minority Students and Students with Disabilities (Jan. 22, 2020).

“The agreement announced today resolves a comprehensive investigation conducted by the DOJ into the law enforcement referral practices of the District and its police department and requires five years of ongoing monitoring.”

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board Releases Third Annual RIPA Report (Jan. 2, 2020).

“The report contains an analysis of the approximately 1.8 million stops conducted by California’s eight largest law enforcement agencies during the second half of 2018.”

California Department of Justice, Sacramento Police Department: Report and Recommendations (January 2019).

In early 2019, the California Department of Justice released a report on use of force-related polices, training, and practices within the Sacramento Police Department (SPD). The purpose of the report is to provide SPD with recommendations grounded in evidence and promising practices from around the country to help guide the reform efforts it has independently committed to pursue.

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Becerra Takes On Independent Review of San Francisco Police Reforms (Feb. 5, 2018).

“The California Department of Justice has entered into an agreement with the City of San Francisco (City) and San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to evaluate and publicly report on the police department’s implementation of reforms previously recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).”

Illinois

Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Reforming Chicago’s Police Department (January 2019).

In January 2019, a federal court approved a consent decree that requires reform of the Chicago Police Department. The decree was negotiated by both the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. This website provides detailed information and resources about the process.

Iowa

Rebecca Salamacha, Iowa Governor Signs Ban on Police Chokeholds into Law, Jurist (June 15, 2020).

“Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill into law Friday, banning police officers’ use of chokeholds. Additionally, the bill allows the Iowa Attorney General to investigate and prosecute officers for unlawful conduct, requires officers to have bias training and prohibits officers with previous misconduct charges from joining the force.”

SeeIowa Police Reform Legislation.

Michigan

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Nessel Announces First Police Reform Proposals for Michigan, (June 16, 2020).

Attorney General Nessel announced seven proposals for police reform in Michigan. The reforms include a licensing requirement for police, as well as a comprehensive approach to dealing with police misconduct.

Minnesota

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Working Group Releases Consensus Recommendations for Reducing Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters, (Feb. 24, 2020).

“Includes 28 recommendations and 33 action steps cover community healing and engagement, prevention and training, investigations and accountability, policy and legal implications, and officer wellness.”

See, State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters, Recommendations (Feb. 2020).

New Jersey

Letter to Police Training Commission, Office of the Attorney General, Suggested Enhancements to the Basic Course for Police Officers’ Training (June 22, 2020).

"This memorandum addresses two proposals: (1) the Police Training Commission’s proposed enhancements to the training curriculum at New Jersey police academies; and (2) the Unarmed Defensive Tactics Subcommittee’s proposed recommendations on how to improve law enforcement defensive tactics training.”

Licensing Committee Report, Police Training Commission, Proposal for the State-wide Licensure of Law Enforcement Officers (June 15, 2020).

“To help ensure that law enforcement officers throughout the State are all held to the same standards of professionalism and can be properly disciplined or removed from office if those standards are violated, the PTC is proposing the State-wide “licensure” of law enforcement officers.”

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, AG Grewal Issues Statewide Order Requiring Law Enforcement Agencies to Identify Officers Who Commit Serious Disciplinary Violations (June 15, 2020).

In Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2020-5, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal ordered all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to begin publicly identifying officers who commit serious disciplinary violations. Under the order, going forward every state, county, and local law enforcement agency in New Jersey will be required to annually publish a list of officers who were fired, demoted, or suspended for more than five days due to a disciplinary violation, with the first list to be published no later than December 31, 2020.

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, AG Grewal Outlines Process for Revising New Jersey’s Use of Force Policy, (June 12, 2020).

“Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today outlined plans for revising New Jersey's ‘Use of Force Policy,’ which governs when the state’s 36,000 law enforcement officers may—and may not—use force against civilians. As part of that process, Attorney General Grewal announced that his office has launched an online portal for public comments and will be organizing community listening sessions in all 21 counties.”

New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Excellence in Policing Initiative (Dec. 4, 2019)

See, S.P. Sullivan and Blake NelsonSweeping Changes Coming to How N.J. Cops Use Force and How it is Investigated NJ.com (Dec. 4, 2019)

See also Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2005-1, Establishing an Official Statewide Policy Defining and Prohibiting the Practice of “Racially-Influenced Policing,” and Overview of New Jersey’s Racial Profiling Policy

New Mexico

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Balderas Announces Police Use of Force Review, Calls on Legislature to Immediately Institute Body-worn Camera Law and Chokehold Ban, (June 9, 2020).

“As the New Mexico Attorney General's office investigates the death of a Gallup man in police custody in 2019, and a Las Cruces police officer faces an involuntary manslaughter charge over an in-custody death earlier this year, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Tuesday he would seek legislation concerning police use of force policies.”

New York

List of New York State’s Police Reform Bills, The Daily News (June 11, 2020).

A list of bills passed by New York State legislature as part of its recent police reform efforts.

See, New York Lawmakers Approve Special Prosecutor for Police-Involved DeathsNY Daily News (June 11, 2020).

Report on Arrests Arising from the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Practices (November 2013).

“The Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”) conducted a series of meetings with prosecutors, the defense bar, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and the Office of the New York City Comptroller to explore the practical effects of the trends apparent in the stop-and-frisk data.”

New York Attorney General’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit website.

This website contains information on SIP’s mandate and all investigation reports, including biennial reports. “On July 8, 2015, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 147, which appointed the New York State Attorney General as special prosecutor in incidents where a law enforcement officer causes the death of an unarmed civilian, or where there is a significant question as to whether the civilian was armed and dangerous. The following day, the office announced the creation of the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit (SIPU) to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute all cases that fall within the scope of Executive Order 147.”

See also, Office of the Attorney General SIPU, Report on the Investigation into The Death of DeWayne Watkins (June 8, 2015).

Press Release, Attorney General James Launches Investigation Into NYPD For Alleged Targeting of Communities of Color on NYC Subways (Jan. 13, 2020)

Ohio

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Governor DeWine, Attorney General Yost Announce Plans for Meaningful Law Enforcement Reform (June 17, 2020).

“Attorney General Dave Yost said Tuesday he will ask state lawmakers to change Ohio law regarding how investigations of police-caused deaths are conducted, as well as require every police department in the state to have a use-of-force policy.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Statement on Investigation of Officer Involved Shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams (Feb. 5, 2013).

Attorney General Mark DeWine stated that a November 2012 police chase that ended with the fatal shooting of two suspects revealed a "systemic failure" of the Cleveland police department, citing both individual policy violations by police officers and the failure of their communications and command system to provide adequate structure and support. He later stated that, “People in leadership need to take responsibility. The police department system failed these officers and they failed the general public. You can’t look at that report and come up with any other conclusion,” after Police Chief Michael McGrath responded to DeWine's assertions at a later City Hall press conference saying there was no "systematic failure.”

Pennsylvania

Jaclyn Lee, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Lawmakers Call for Banning Chokeholds, 6ABC (June 18, 2020).

“Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, along with members of Congress and law enforcement, is calling for Pennsylvania to enact a chokehold ban.”

Press Release, Office of the Attorney General, Law Enforcement and Union Leaders Call for Police Hiring Reform (June 4, 2020).

Attorney General Shapiro brought together law enforcement and union leaders from across the Commonwealth to announce their support for ending the practice of law enforcement agencies unknowingly hiring officers with documented patterns of excessive use of force or other misconduct.

Texas

Attorney General of Texas, Peace Officer Involved Shooting Reports

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) adopted and published reporting forms for Officer-Involved Shooting Incidents, as required by Articles 2.139 and 2.1395 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which became effective September 1, 2015. This website posts all of the reports.

Vermont

Office of the Vermont Attorney General, Proposed Policy: Bias-Free Policing (Nov. 29, 2010)

Other Resources

Lisa Madigan, Cara Hendrickson & Karyn L. Bass Ehler, Stepping into the Shoes of the Department of Justice: The Unusual, Necessary, and Hopeful Path the Illinois Attorney General Took to Require Police Reform in Chicago, 15 NW. J. L. & SOC. POL'Y. 121 (2020).

ACS State AG Project: Addressing Police Misconduct and Unconstitutional Policing, Virtual Panel Discussion (July 16, 2020)

ACS Briefing Call, A Conversation on the Role of State Attorneys General in Police Oversight & Accountability (June 29, 2020)

Jason Mazzone, Stephen Rushin, State Attorneys General As Agents of Police Reform, (February 2020)

Professor Kami N. Chavis, Curbing Excessive Force: A Primer on Barriers to Police Accountability, ACS Issue Brief (April 8, 2017)