On Thursday, June 18, the National League of Cities (NLC) took emergency action and its board of directors unanimously passed a Resolution on the Use of Force by Municipal Law Enforcement Officers.
Local elected leaders have the primary responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of their residents. And right now, for the sake of all of America’s residents, cities, towns and villages across the country local leaders must look within institutions, particularly police and law enforcement, to remove longstanding racial biases and inequities.
With this new resolution, NLC will move towards developing recommendations on how municipal leaders can ensure their law enforcement agencies “use of force policies” are appropriate, including prohibiting the use of chokeholds, requiring officers to use de-escalation techniques, and enforcing a duty to intervene when use of force is excessive.
NLC believes that trust between law enforcement officers and the people they serve and protect is essential to a municipality’s stability, the integrity of the criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services. As an organization, NLC is dedicated to working alongside our local elected leaders to right the wrongs of America’s long history of structural and institutional racism, and to identify and eliminate the biases that exist within many long-standing government policies, practices and procedures.
We acknowledge the recent efforts from Congress and the Administration on reforming public safety in our nation, but we recognize more needs to be done. Cities, towns and villages need a federal partner to ensure that local leaders have the support and best practices they need to meet the demands of the current moment, whether it’s the economic crisis, global pandemic, or on-going clashes over police brutality.
Even with federal aid and support, it is up to local officials to lead and implement meaningful reforms that can improve policing in America.
It will take all levels of government, committed to protecting our residents and building a better system. Until we’ve built that system, the issues of public safety and use of force must remain top of mind for all residents, businesses, institutions and leaders in America.
The resolution, drafted by NLC’s Public Safety and Crime Prevention Federal Advocacy Committee, calls on the Department of Justice to update the Use of Force Continuum and makes a clear ask to Congress to pass additional legislation that will support local efforts to reform policing in their communities.
Cities, towns and villages remain committed to implementing policies that promote racial equity in our justice system and improve our nation’s municipal policing to serve and protect everyone equally. Local leaders must ask the hard questions to ensure they are building communities where their residents can live free from violence, fear, harassment, discrimination, and intimidation. Hard questions lead to hard fought answers – and we owe it to our communities to have uncomfortable conversations to keep the public safe.
About the Authors:
Joe Buscaino, Los Angeles Council President Pro Tempore, currently serves as the president of the National League of Cities. Follow him on Twitter at @joebuscaino.
Clarence E. Anthony is the CEO & Executive Director of the National League of Cities. Follow him on Twitter: @ceanthony50.