Lexipol's Fight Against Police Reform
58 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2021 Last revised: 2 Feb 2022
We are in the midst of a critically important moment in police reform. National and local attention is fixed on how to reduce the number of people killed and injured by the police. One approach—which has been recognized for decades to reduce police killings—is to limit police power to use force.
This Article is the first to uncover how an often-overlooked private company, Lexipol LLC, has become one of the most powerful voices pushing against reform of use-of-force standards. Founded in 2003, Lexipol now writes police policies and trainings for over one-fifth of American law enforcement agencies. As this Article documents, Lexipol has refused to incorporate common reform proposals into the policies it writes for its subscribers, including a use-of-force matrix, policies requiring de-escalation, or bright-line rules prohibiting certain types of behavior—like chokeholds and shooting into cars. Lexipol has also taken an active advocacy role in opposition to proposed reforms of police use-of-force standards, pushing, instead, for departments to hew closely to Graham v. Connor’s “objectively reasonable” standard. Finally, when use-of-force reforms have been enacted, Lexipol has attempted to minimize their impact.
Local governments, police departments, and insurers have long viewed Lexipol as a critically important partner in keeping policies lawful and up-to-date. This Article makes clear that they should take a closer look. Lexipol’s aggressive efforts to retain wide officer discretion to use force may ultimately expose officers and agencies to liability instead of shielding them from it. It is time for advocacy groups seeking policing improvements to train their sights on Lexipol. Unless and until Lexipol changes its approach, the company should be viewed as a barrier to reform.
Keywords: use of force, policing, privatization, police reform
JEL Classification: K13, K41, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation