A U.S. Conference of Mayors working group, composed of mayors and police chiefs, recently issued a report titled Strengthening Police-Community Relations in America’s Cities. The report made two recommendations designed to improve police-community relations through redesigned police policies and practices and independent investigations of possible police misconduct. The group found that independent investigations of deaths related to police encounters are essential in maintaining public confidence that “all of the facts will be examined and a just decision made.”

The group convened its study of deaths related to police encounters in light of the shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, as well as the shooting deaths of New York police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu by someone who claimed retaliation for the deaths of Mr. Brown and Mr. Garner.

While recognizing that many police departments conduct effective community policing, the working group also found a serious need to improve police-community relations in many areas of the country. The group issued multiple recommendations, including improving police department policies and practices—such as examining recruitment, training, and supervision— and conducting independent investigations of incidents involving officers’ use of deadly force.

Ballad Spahr attorneys assist many municipalities and police departments with these recommended police policy and practice reviews and independent investigations. Such reviews and independent investigations not only possibly improve police-community relations, but also limit potential municipal liability for police misconduct.

The firm’s Public Sector Labor and Employment and White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations Groups are available to assist municipalities in reviewing and drafting police department policies and practices, and in conducting independent police investigations.

Copyright © 2015 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
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