Commonsense Recommendations to "Fix the Police"

These are some thoughts I started to write down a couple years ago after some high-profile cases. Recent developments underscore how urgently we need to get our police forces under control.


Police violence against American citizens is reaching epidemic proportions, and police agencies are largely unregulated and unaccountable. Almost all riots since the Rodney King beating were the result of police misconduct, usually against minorities, and failures to hold those responsible to account.

If we can clean up policing in America, i.e. "Fix the Police", most civil unrest will cease. The police are the root cause of most riots over the last 30 years, and it is the police themselves that need to be reformed to alleviate this problem.

Court settlements and judgments in police brutality cases are spiraling out of control; one recent settlement was in the amount of $20,000,000 for ONE murder by a poorly trained & undisciplined police officer. Although some naive local officials like to pretend that these payouts are covered by insurance policies, ultimately the cost is born by a jurisdiction's taxpayers as insurance premium rise to cover the insurance companies' costs, i.e. as a jurisdiction's experience rating goes south due to repeated payouts, premiums eventually will increase in proportion to the expenses.

Minimal performance standards must be enforced at the state licensing level. Violations of these minimal standards will result in disciplinary actions on an individual's licensing record; discipline may consist of censure, fine, or license revocation. Serious infractions or an accumulation of lesser infractions shall result in license revocation. Licensees may also be ordered to undergo remedial training to be completed in addition to any required continuing education.

Most, if not all, states have a P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer Standards & Training) agency. These agencies should evolve into regulatory agencies that not only mandate & coordinate training activities but also issue censures, fines, and license revocations as appropriate.

Some have indicated that these P.O.S.T. agencies would be unable or unwilling to administer the regulatory & disciplinary aspects of peace officer licensing. This is nonsense. Every state currently has one or more agencies that regulate such professions as real estate sales, real estate appraisals, insurance, doctors, nurses, dentists, etc. If a P.O.S.T. agency's bureaucrats are not up to the task, they should either be replaced with new administrators who can do what is required, or the function should be transferred to another existing regulatory agency, e.g. attorney general or commerce department.

At the federal level a P.O.S.T. agency shall be created under the independent auspices of the Office of Inspector General (O.I.G.) for the Department of Justice (D.O.J.). This federal P.O.S.T. agency shall have regulatory control over ALL federal law enforcement organizations.

Any district or territory which does not establish its own regulatory P.O.S.T. shall be subject to regulation by the D.O.J. O.I.G. as mentioned above.

In the event that local authorities are negligent in managing & disciplining their forces, citizens must be allowed to allege such negligence and pursue police discipline through the federal courts.

The antiquated (qualified) immunity based on the English common-law concept of rex non peccat (the king does no wrong) has been abandoned by all major common-law countries except the United States. All states and the federal government should do likewise, and not cooperate with any other police organizations that still claims immunity. This will ensure that police authorities are fully liable and responsible to the people that they serve.

Violations of important core standards (e.g. requirements to be fully & easily identifiable and to wear functioning body cameras) shall be gross misdemeanors.

Deliberate assaults on journalists or bystanders (including "citizen journalists") shall be felonies.

Perjury in search warrant applictions or court testimony shall result in permanent license revocation. The licenses of any current "Brady List" officers shall be revoked immediately.

A police agency shall be allowed to provide assistance to and to receive assistance ONLY from other police organizations that meet the same standards (e.g. identification, body cameras, licensing, immunity).

Except for those authorized to work "undercover", every armed police officer must be fully & easily identifiable at all times:

No war toys -- fully automatic weapons and grenades (including flash-bangs) have no place among the general populace.

Tear gas & CS gas -- both banned in warfare by international covenants -- shall not be used against the civilian population.

Any so-called "non-lethal weapons" (e.g. rubber bullets) that can inflict even occasional death or serious injury shall not be used against the civilian population.

No militarization -- the distinction between military and civilian police must be firmly maintained. Vehicles & equipment must not present a military appearance.

Search warrants must be executed only by uniformed officers. Any "undercover" officers who need to be present shall arrive after the premises have been secured.

Investigations of police actions resulting in death or injury shall be under court supervision. There shall be no self-exonerating reports from the same or closely related police forces.

"No knock" warrants must be approved by both the officer's supervisor and chief, and must be approved by a sitting district judge (no magistrates or referees).

National guard assets may assist only in an unarmed role. Soldiers who are trained to kill people and destroy things should not be operating among the civilian population, in particular they shall not be in possession of ammunition & bayonets when they are assisting police agencies.