The Returning Role of Consent Decrees in Police Reform—And How Data Management Helps

An increase in consent decrees is coming. Are your department’s systems ready to respond?

How does your law enforcement agency plan to adapt in an era of changing expectations, social friction, and new administration at the highest levels of government? Police reform is an ongoing issue nationwide—and consent decrees are likely to be a major factor.  

While the Trump administration largely dismissed the ideas of using consent decrees as a means of police reform, it is possible that the Biden administration will allocate federal resources to influence local departments.  

Although a well-intentioned, properly operating agency may believe it has little to fear in the wake of this change, preparing for the unexpected is always wise.  

When heightened standards are all but a certainty, what can agencies do to make sure they don’t engage in the sort of behavior that calls in high-level attention?

What do consent decrees mean for departments?

Consent decrees are legally binding documents directed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that outline required changes in a law enforcement agency. For example, one notable decree between the DOJ and the Los Angeles Police Department included mandates to address and report on the following:  

All of these are essential parts of policing. However, the risk of facing a consent decree requires any functional agency to address matters like these—and other problems that arise—internally, evolving and improving their policy, process, and training practices as they go.

How software systems can help in the age of consent decrees

It’s fair to say all law enforcement agencies could benefit from re-examining their policies, both to align with new social norms and to protect themselves from the misbehavior of individual officers.

One key factor in all these calls for reform is centralized visibility. Agencies must be able to track training and behavior and report that data to oversight agencies within the state—and possibly even to the federal government.  

Police agencies face increasing risks, whether from toxic workplace culture or the inability to spot problematic officers or behaviors in an otherwise dedicated, professional force.  

Managing even a small group of people and watching for every red flag is all but impossible, and the challenge only grows with the size of the agency.  

A platform that centralizes visibility of all internal data—from training and disciplinary history to compliance and beyond—can be the perfect tool to aid police agencies in this new age of consent decrees.

That kind of data is essential when dealing with the potential of increased scrutiny, and it’s the kind of thing you don’t really miss until you truly need it.

With the Acadis® Readiness Suite, you can get exactly the data you need at a glance: compiled, centralized, and ready to share and analyze.  

Improved training management can help you stay compliant with modern standards, protect your organization from litigation, and make your people better than ever at their jobs. Find out how in our Failure to Train: Protecting Responder Organizations from a Shifting Legal Threat webinar.

The National Decertification Index (NDI) is a national registry of police officers whose law enforcement credentials have been revoked due to misconduct.

For more than 10 years, the NDI has provided police departments, state agencies, and other organizations with decertification data about potential hires.

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