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The Politics of Policing: Ensuring Stakeholder Collaboration in the Federal Reform of Local Law-Enforcement Agencies

59 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2008 Last revised: 4 Sep 2014

Kami Chavis

Wake Forest University Law School


Title 42 U.S.C. 14141 authorizes the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek injunctive relief against local police departments to eliminate a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct by local law-enforcement agencies. Rather than initiate lawsuits to reform these agencies, DOJ's current strategy is to negotiate reforms using a process that involves only DOJ representatives, municipality officials, and police management officials. While there are many benefits of negotiating the reforms, the current process completely excludes important stakeholders directly impacted by the reforms including community members, who are the consumers of police services, and the rank-and-file police officers, whom the reforms may adversely impact. The exclusion of these groups is not only inconsistent with general norms of democratic inclusion, but it is also inconsistent with the paradigm of community policing that emphasizes the benefits of police-community partnerships. Ultimately, this exclusion undermines the legitimacy of the reforms, thereby threatening the implementation and permanence of the reforms. This article advocates that in order to ensure broader stakeholder participation in the context of its enforcement of 14141, DOJ should formally adopt the paradigm of regulatory negotiation, a process that has been used successfully in administrative rulemaking. Applying the regulatory negotiation model to police reform has important implications such as greater cooperation among those implementing the reforms and the creation of innovative solutions to address police misconduct that are specifically tailored to the respective jurisdiction abstract text here.

Keywords: federal government, police, police brutality, law-enforcement agency, police reform, 42 USC 14141, Department of Jusitce, remedies for police miscondcut, police misconduct, police abuse

JEL Classification: J18, K14, K42, H71

Suggested Citation

Chavis, Kami, The Politics of Policing: Ensuring Stakeholder Collaboration in the Federal Reform of Local Law-Enforcement Agencies. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Forthcoming; Wake Forest Univ. Legal Studies Paper No. 1088140. Available at SSRN:

Kami Chavis (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

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