Statement of Principles on Policing and Community Engagement
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is strongly committed to expanding opportunity for all, understanding that no individual should feel threatened or be treated differently based on the color of their skin. Fairness, justice, equal protection and safety within our criminal justice system, and in communities, are the only means for protecting and serving all Americans.
We seek a criminal justice system that respects human dignity, ensures equal justice under the law, and keeps communities safe. We also seek a truly inclusive and vibrant society, free of abuse of power and authority in a variety of contexts:
- Fairness: The criminal justice system must render fair and impartial justice for all Americans. A civil society is strongest when all individuals are treated fairly.
- Justice: The criminal justice system has a key role to play in maintaining public safety, but also in maintaining basic human dignity. Policies must lead to a neutral, even-handed application of the law and seek to build better communities. Criminal law should be reserved for conduct that negatively impacts public safety, not increasing the size of government and undermining freedom and liberty.
- Simplicity: Criminal laws that are unnecessary, unclear, duplicative, overly broad, or otherwise insufficient to serve the purpose of the law must be repealed. Unnecessary criminal laws divert law enforcement resources from preventing and solving serious crime and require them to address societal problems for which they are not trained.
- Transparency: Governments should ensure relevant oversight agencies have ample access to information when conducting investigations, including an open and transparent criminal justice data collection process.
- Accountability: Independent oversight agencies should be adequately funded and provided with sufficiently trained staff, free of any conflicts of interests with the agencies of law enforcement they oversee. Oversight agencies and governing bodies should be required to report their findings to the state legislature, the police chiefs and sheriffs that they oversee, and to the public. Reporting, while always being mindful of the privacy of individuals, should include an analysis of complaints and internal investigations and how those were handled. Oversight agencies should also be required to review the internal policies of law enforcement agencies, as well as their training practices and other issues that merit public concern. Adopting evidence-based training practices for law enforcement agencies should be encouraged, including those outlining the use of restraint when concerning the use of force.
- Government Reform: Some structural barriers to good policing that should be removed include reforming civil asset forfeiture and not overemphasizing total citations or arrest numbers. Blanket immunity protections for illegal or unconstitutional government actions should be reformed. Additionally, labor agreements between public sector employees and their unions should be reviewed. Laws that prevent or make very difficult the ability of government employers to discipline or terminate public employees in any agency who perform improperly should be reformed.
- Citizen Empowerment: Law enforcement agencies should be encouraged to develop alternative measures of success, such as community engagement and positive interactions with their communities.