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Reaffirming Necessary Police Reform Policies in the United States

WHEREAS, the NAACP has historically advocated for policing reform, most recently supporting those outlined within the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, that include and emphasize the need for police accountability, transparency through data, the elimination of the use of no-knock warrants, and the standardization of comprehensive training requirements; and 

WHEREAS, the doctrine of qualified immunity currently protects and shields law enforcement officers from being held responsible for malfeasance, perpetuating a culture of near-zero accountability that has resulted in approximately1,000 deaths by police shootings each year with an average of only 13 police officers charged with murder or manslaughter in the same period; and  

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has held that a law enforcement officer is immune from liability unless it can be shown that the officer broke "clearly established" law in the process and in 2009 expanded the doctrine, making it even easier for law enforcement officers to avoid accountability for using excessive force, even in extreme cases of police misconduct;and

WHEREAS, despite their responsibility to ensure accountability, implementation, and maintenance of police anti-corruption policies,localInternal Affairs Departments, internal EEO Departments, internal misconduct review panels, and union protections further shield police officers from accountability and perpetuate corruption and misconduct; and

WHEREAS, law enforcement officers who have been terminated or forced to resign on the basis of misconduct are often hired in other jurisdictions, including across state lines, posing a significant problem that increases the likelihood of further misconduct by those police officers; and

WHEREAS, there is no national dataset on fatal police interactions, allegations of instances of the use of excessive force, records of allegations of police misconduct, or civilian complaints, resulting in further obstacles to police accountability and a lack of transparency that erode the public's trust in governmental entities; and 

WHEREAS, althoughinstances of police brutality and police-involved shootings of countless unarmed Black people have gained national attention, Black women victims are often overlooked and absent in the narrative, rarely garnering the same public outrage; and Black women account for 13 percent of women in the United States, yet make up 20 percent of the women fatally shot by the police and 28 percent of unarmed persons killed by police officers; and 

WHEREAS, no-knock warrants, an aggressive, military-style practice in which law enforcement agents raid an individual's home without notice or clearly identifying themselves as law enforcement, often create a scene of violence, confusion, and panic that has traumatic and deadly consequences to individuals and communities; and

WHEREAS, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits arbitrary vehicle searches by police; however, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, such as Whren V. United States, have created room for officers to use stops as a pretext to investigate alleged offenses for which the officer has no probable cause nor reasonable suspicion; and

WHEREAS, due to a historic legacy stained by systemic racism and implicit bias, Black drivers are 20% more likely to be stopped than White drivers, and being heavily targeted for pretextual stops, Black people are exposed to a great risk of escalated use of force by law enforcement officers that all too often results in death; and

WHEREAS, many law enforcement agencies have minimal training relating to diversity, culture, and bias with many states having no bias training mandates at all, and that is then exacerbated by the focus on combat tactics in basic training which, in turn, heavily impacts and amplifies the perceptions and biases officers carry into their interactions with the public, specifically with Black people and people of color, who are dehumanized and seen as threats; and

WHEREAS, the restraint killing of George Floyd put the psychological "warrior training" of police, also known as "killology" and "fear-based training" in the spotlight. This controversial practice militarizes police, training them to have a willingness to kill based on the premise that police officers are "at war," necessarily casting members of the public as the enemy, and advocating that officers should be psychologically trained to become "warriors" to overcome their natural resistance to killing," necessarily casting members of the public as those to be killed; and 

WHEREAS, alternatives to policing, such as crisis units that deploy mental health professionals as first responders, automated traffic enforcement, and civilian traffic response units that remove police from routine traffic enforcement, are proven to greatly reduce the frequency and impact of the use of force and corresponding injuries in crisis situations, reduce racial disparities in policing and the justice system, improve cost-effectiveness for agencies and taxpayers, and most importantly, save human lives from the irreversible consequences of trauma and loss.  

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP reaffirms its strong opposition to police brutality and calls for significant and tenable police reforms and an increased call for public awareness of Black women victims.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for Legislative and Executive Branches, in their respective local, state, and federal jurisdictions, to: 

  1. End qualified immunity for law enforcement officers; 
  2. Cease the practice of no-knock warrants; 
  3. Protect against pretextual traffic stops by decoupling traffic enforcement from crime investigation and employing traffic enforcement units that are separate from other crime enforcement divisions or units;
  4. Increase the use of technology and automation in a racially equitable manner that does not constitute surveillance;
  5. Increase the use of unarmed law enforcement personnel when and where appropriate;
  6. Research, evaluate, and institute community-determined alternatives to public safety and policing that are inclusive of interventions and preventative practices that reduce police contact, especially face-to-face interactions between armed law enforcement officers and motorists during routine traffic stops or during instances of mental health crises; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls on the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics to: 

  1. Expand their national, state, and local data collection and public dissemination efforts to be inclusive of a statistical gendered analysis; 
  2. Implement standardized reporting requirements by local and state police agencies;
  3. Make federal funding contingent upon said local and state police agencies' compliance with these standardized reporting requirements; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for Legislative and Executive branches, in their respective local, state, and federal jurisdictions to: 

  1. Implement standards for independent oversight of law enforcement officers by Internal Affairs or EEO departments with final adjudication and determination powers; 
  2. Develop a comprehensive National Police Misconduct Registry and corresponding standards and policies barring the hiring of officers previously terminated or forced to resign due to acts of violence and/or misconduct;
  3. Require comprehensive psychological screenings prior to the hiring of law enforcement officers and periodically throughout their tenure;
  4. Standardize comprehensive training requirements on implicit bias and racial profiling; and
  5. Prohibit the use of "warrior" or "fear-based" training, i.e. "killology" by any law enforcement agency.