Officers Should Intervene as Matter of Law, Not Just Policy

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2022

3 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2022

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

University of Houston Law Center; Boston University - School of Law; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; Stanford Law School; Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: 2022


Late last month, President Joe Biden issued an executive order reforming federal law enforcement policy. One aspect of this new policy — reinforcing the Department of Justice’s new use-of-force policy imposing an affirmative duty on federal officers to intervene in their colleagues’ misuse of force — is a necessary, overdue initiative. But it doesn’t go far enough.

As I argue in a forthcoming law review article, Congress and all state legislatures should enact such a duty into law. Introducing criminal liability for inaction at the state and federal levels would more strongly prod all officers in the country to stop their peers’ serious misconduct and promote accountability for those officers who opt to remain as bystanders.

Keywords: criminal law, Bad Samaritan laws, duty to aid, duty to report, duty to rescue, duty to intervene, Officer Duty to Intervene, bystanders, upstanders, state law, federal law, police, policing, police killing, police violence, police brutality, police reform, George Floyd, Derek Chauvin

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., Officers Should Intervene as Matter of Law, Not Just Policy (2022). St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2022, Available at SSRN:

Zachary D. Kaufman (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

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