Lexipol and Police Reform
Rapid changes are taking place in the way law enforcement agencies and communities approach policing. As discussion continues to evolve around the concept of police reform, these changes are often framed as a reaction to police use of force. Yet police reform encompasses many complex issues—and the term means different things to different people. Communities across the country continue to grapple with achieving better policing outcomes without jeopardizing public safety.
Lexipol has an important role to play in police reform and shaping a more productive conversation around this important topic. Through our products and services, we provide agencies with timely policy updates and training that incorporate police reform legislation and changing best practices. But as a group of individuals committed to constitutional policing, our role goes much further. By working with thousands of agencies across the country, we develop and share a national perspective on issues of reform. We bring together stakeholders. And we develop policy, training and wellness resources that can support the goals of reform advocates.
For the hundreds of professionals Lexipol employs—many of whom are public safety professionals who have served their communities honorably for decades—police reform is not a new development; it’s part of a philosophy of continuous evolution and quality improvement followed since our founding.
For the hundreds of professionals Lexipol employs, police reform is tied to continuous quality improvement that has been an important part of our mission since our founding.
What Is Police Reform?
The term “police reform” reflects a range of positions. Reform conversations often get caught up in the notion of “defunding the police.” Even this term, however, is somewhat vague. It can range from disbanding armed law enforcement and abolishing prisons to shifting a portion of a community’s law enforcement budget into mental health resources, jail diversion programs, housing and drug treatment. Many reform advocates would like to see investment in community mental health and other forms of aid without jeopardizing police budgets.
Reform goes beyond budgets, too. It refers to community expectations for transparency, accountability and bias-free policing. It encompasses certain policy and tactical issues, such as the importance of de-escalation and a ban on choke holds.
Although specific reform initiatives differ, at Lexipol, we believe we can unite differing voices around a shared vision of creating safer communities for all.
Lexipol’s 5 Principles of Police Reform
Our goal at Lexipol is to empower first responders and public servants to best serve the needs of all their residents safely and responsibly. This goal aligns with but also goes beyond police reform. In developing our policy, training and wellness resources, we welcome diversity of opinion because we know that all voices are important in this conversation—community members, academics, first responders and more.
Lexipol has developed five key principles to guide our participation in reform initiatives:
1. Reform is a continuous effort
Lexipol was founded on the need for continuous quality improvement, a term that shares many of the same objectives of police reform, including consistency and professionalism in law enforcement operations. We believe reform efforts must take into account the historical development within the profession and be rooted in long-term progress. Reform is not a bill to pass or a period to “get through”; it is a continuous development that Lexipol will remain dedicated to as long as we operate.
2. True reform must involve both community members and law enforcement
Community members have an essential role in shaping police policy. As taxpayers, they have a right to understand the operations of their local law enforcement and to expect officers to act in accordance with community values as well as all applicable laws. However, the police reform conversation cannot be one-sided. Law enforcement leaders must be involved as well—not only because their buy-in is essential to success of reform initiatives, but because their experience and expertise in this profession must not be overlooked. While reform efforts can initiate outside law enforcement, those who do the actual job every day must be involved to ensure reform efforts are realistic and do not inadvertently jeopardize public or officer safety.
3. Reform must stem from mutual trust and respect
Essential to any progress between groups is mutual respect for the perspectives each bring. This applies to the police reform conversation, too. Law enforcement leaders must not assume they understand community members’ experiences or discount their opinions because “they’ve never been on the street.” Equally important, community members must not engage from the perspective that law enforcement is inherently corrupt or racist or discount the experiences of law enforcement leaders. Rather, those within and outside the profession must agree to listen, broaden their perspectives and respectfully work toward consensus when possible.
4. Reform must support public safety
At the heart of the law enforcement profession is the preservation of life. Well-meaning reform measures that satisfy an immediate need can have unintended downstream impacts that threaten public safety. Many communities have experienced this in the wake of legislation passed in 2020 and 2021. At Lexipol, we believe the best approach to police reform is a measured one that considers all potential consequences.
5. Reform is about more than policy or tactics
The headline-grabbing stories about police reform focus primarily on terms and tactics—carotid restraint, positional asphyxia, de-escalation, pretextual stops. These are extremely important topics. But we believe the police reform conversation must go further. It encompasses not only policies and tactics, but also how officers are trained, and whether training mandates are properly funded. It must also take into account how we are supporting the mental and physical wellness of officers. Factors such as physical fatigue, compassion fatigue, post-traumatic stress and others have a direct impact on officer decision-making and can affect whether police reform efforts are ultimately successful.
It’s not just the hot-button, headline-generating events that matter. It’s about treating community members with respect and dignity every day, every interaction.
Lexipol Policies and Police Reform
Lexipol has long understood that public safety policy evolves in response to both legislative and societal changes. For example, we conducted a complete overhaul of our immigration violations policy in 2019 due to changing societal viewpoints around immigration. In addition, when the development of DNA testing laid bare the problem of wrongful convictions, faulty eyewitness identifications were revealed as a consistent source of problems. Our legal team worked with the Innocence Project to request input and research on administering identification procedures, which guided our policy revision.
In summer 2020, the pace of change increased, with many community members advocating changes to police use of force. Lexipol made important updates to our use of force policies to require de-escalation, restrict carotid restraints to situations where deadly force is authorized, and expand the duty to intervene to include the reporting of force that is even potentially unreasonable.
Although our policies allow for some exceptions based on real-world experience and practical analysis, Lexipol use of force policies generally:
- Require de-escalation, duty to intervene, warning before deadly force, providing medical aid and reporting of force
- Prohibit shooting at moving vehicles
- Prohibit using choke holds and carotid restraints unless it’s a situation where deadly force is authorized
Our policies also align with 10 key recommendations of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Report on Police Reform and Racial Justice and the Presidential Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities.
For more information on these policy positions please see our Police Use of Force website. Note: Lexipol policies are provided as a starting point for agency policy development. Customers are encouraged to customize their policies to meet the unique needs of their agencies and their communities, including specific positions on reform issues.
In addition, it’s important to remember that the average officer will never fire their gun in the line of duty, but they will encounter hundreds of situations requiring them to make important decisions under high stress. Situations such as interacting with homeless persons, responding to a domestic violence call or ensuring the right reporting is completed on a child abuse case. If officers make the wrong decision in these situations, community members can be harmed. Lexipol’s policies provide comprehensive guidance in these areas and many more to help officers do the right thing.
Because it’s not just the hot-button, headline-generating events that matter. It’s about treating all community members with respect and dignity every day, every interaction.
Our Commitment on Police Reform
At Lexipol, we welcome increased community interest and engagement in policing, because we know it is only by working together that we can achieve the mutual trust necessary to achieve the goals of police reform. We remain committed to listening to differing viewpoints, assisting law enforcement leaders in continuous quality improvement, and advocating for policies that protect the rights of all community members. Our purpose is to support organizations and the residents they serve in the shared goal of creating safer communities for all.
Supporting Police Reform
In addition to specific policy positions, Lexipol supports police reform in several ways, including:
Lexipol’s policy solution helps agencies stay up to date on changing legislation; access tools that enhance officer accountability and compliance; and deliver training that reinforces policy understanding. Our policy program video has more information on how our solution creates a foundation for reform.
Lexipol regularly holds free educational webinars, many of which address reform concepts. These webinars have included:
- Developing a Culture of Accountability: Outward Mindset and Active Bystandership
- Agitated Subjects and Ketamine: Working Together to Enhance Safety
- Police Reform: Training “Artifacts” – The Role Training or Lack of Training Plays in Poor Decisions
- Police Reform: Response to People in Crisis – Mitigating Harm and Enhancing the Safety of All Involved
- Police Reform: Use of Force – Policy or Tactics
- Michigan Police Reform: Taking the Initiative and Doing It Right
- Serving Amid Chaos: Taking Care of Your Community, Your Colleagues and Yourself
- New York Legislative Update: Understanding Recent Police Reform Legislation
- Duty to Intercede: Conceptual, Cultural and Legal Aspects
- Law Enforcement and Homeless Populations: Balancing Outreach with Enforcement
We also publish numerous blog articles on police reform and cover police reform news and analysis on our industry site, Police1.
In 2020, Lexipol launched a website to provide transparency into our use of force policy positions, and in 2021 developed a guide to help community members contribute to review of law enforcement policy.