§ 13.01. Agency Role in Promoting Sound Policing

(a) Agencies should create and maintain systems and policies that further the goals of sound policing.

(b) For the purposes of this Chapter and Chapter 14, “sound policing” refers to the practices called for by these Principles, and in particular those called for in Chapter 1.


a. “Sound policing” defined. In order to avoid listing all the elements of sound policing each time they are called for, this Section uses the term “sound policing.” That term is intended to capture the full set of characteristics policing must embody and promote in working toward the policing goals set out in § 1.02, i.e., promoting a safe and secure society, preserving the peace, addressing crime, and upholding the law. Chapter 1 describes generally what it means to engage in sound policing. To constitute sound policing, the actions of agencies and officers must, for example, seek to reduce harm (as required by § 1.04), promote police legitimacy (as required by § 1.07), and ensure that police investigations are not motivated or justified on the basis or protected characteristics or beliefs (as required by § 1.11). The Chapters that follow spell out the particulars of how to achieve sound policing. Policing that is consistent with the U.S. Constitution or other governing law, or agency policy, nonetheless may not constitute sound policing if it does not promote the goals set out in § 1.02, or if it is inconsistent with these Principles. Because each of the Principles in this project is important to achieving sound policing, internal and external accountability structures should be designed to ensure adherence to the Principles.

b. Agency role in promoting sound policing. Although agencies and officers both should engage in and promote “sound policing,” agencies play a special role in advancing sound policing. As the Principles in this Chapter indicate, and the principles in other Chapters reinforce, officers and the public depend on agencies to set clear expectations for officer conduct; to enable and incentivize officers to meet those expectations; and to assess officer conduct and offer feedback for further improvement. This kind of internal accountability helps to ensure that officer conduct aligns with agency and public expectations. See § 1.05.

c. Systems of accountability. Many in the policing community and beyond believe internal accountability best is achieved through an integrated approach in which institutional arrangements reinforce stated rules and values. To this end, this Chapter directs agencies to develop and maintain formal systems of accountability that promote compliance with law and policy and treat officers fairly, rather than depend on less formal or less comprehensive approaches. The focus of these Principles is on describing the minimum characteristics these systems should include to promote legal and policy compliance, while recognizing that they also help to ensure that policing: effectively pursues legitimate goals; respects individual rights and advances racial justice; reduces harm to individuals, communities, and officers; and treats officers and the public fairly and impartially, apart from the written policies and laws that specifically guide officer conduct.

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