Democratic Police Reform and Public Law Injunctions

58 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2016  

Sunita Patel

American University - Washington College of Law

Date Written: November 15, 2016


Scholars have overlooked systemic reform injunctions as potent tools to challenge and combat discriminatory and unconstitutional police practices. Recent events and an infusion of funding from major philanthropy and private sources promise an increase in injunctive suits challenging department-wide unconstitutional and discriminatory police practices. I propose formalized community involvement in the creation, implementation and evaluation of injunctive remedial processes to improve solution generation and popularize policing public law litigation. The dominant policing theories offering community involvement — community policing and procedural justice — have limited utility at addressing long-term tensions between the police and Black or Brown neighborhoods. My proposed remedy, as part of a larger injunction, aims to shift power from the police to the policed and draws from democratic theory.

Keywords: unconstitutional and discriminatory police practices, injunctive lawsuits, public law litigation

Suggested Citation

Patel, Sunita, Democratic Police Reform and Public Law Injunctions (November 15, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Sunita Patel (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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