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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530


January 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 1

To enhance community confidence in law enforcement practices and allow for the identification and correction of any internal deficiencies that could cause injury to the public or law enforcement, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order called Safe Policing for Safe Communities (EO 12939) on June 16, 2020.

In October, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr announced the standards that local, state, and university law enforcement agencies must meet to comply with this Executive Order. These standards include two mandatory requirements to improve accountability, build trust, and ensure both public and law enforcement safety:

  1. That the agency’s use of force policies prohibit chokeholds, except in situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law
  2. That the agency’s use of force policies adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws

Certification Required for Discretionary Grant Funding

Because the intention of the Executive Order is to ensure that all American law enforcement agencies continue striving to provide safe and accountable delivery of services to their communities, its implementation is urgent. Only those that have been certified or are in the process of gaining certification by a credentialing body designated by the Attorney General will be eligible for discretionary grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

To make certification accessible, credentialing organizations have been identified in almost every state. In addition, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), Inc., the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), and the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST) can certify law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. A link to the list of the credentialing organizations is provided at the end of this article.

The Attorney General has also encouraged these credentialing organizations to make the process as cost-effective as possible. In support of this effort, the DOJ has provided grant funding through the Office of Community Policing Services (COPS Office), which has awarded $600,000 to IADLEST. Under this award, IADLEST is providing assistance to credentialing bodies to certify agencies within their states. In states without an accreditation program, IADLEST is certifying agencies and supporting efforts to create accreditation programs.

Additional Safe Policing Policies Encouraged

Since the Executive Order was announced, major stakeholders - including police chiefs and law enforcement organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) - have been consulted and kept apprised of the implementation process.

Many have endorsed the adoption of the order’s standards, especially those related to use of force, and the Attorney General encourages credentialing organizations to also assess agencies’ policies and procedures in that area, including the following:

  • Training protocols on use of force and de-escalation
  • The scope of an officer’s duty and obligation to intervene in order to prevent excessive force by another officer
  • When and how an officer should provide appropriate medical care
  • Officer requirements to identify themselves as law enforcement and give verbal warning of intent to use deadly force
  • Shooting at or from a moving vehicle

There are also additional safe policing principles that credentialing bodies are encouraged to review: performance management tools (such as early warning systems that help to identify officers who may require intervention) and best practices regarding community engagement.

Other areas they are asked to consider in their reviews are the provision of confidential access to mental health services for law enforcement officers and policies and procedures for recruitment and retention of high performing personnel. Emphasizing the importance of these and other practices supporting the Executive Order’s mandates, Attorney General Barr said, “These principles provide for more accountability, transparency, and community engagement and will foster community trust, all critical elements in keeping both the public and law enforcement officers safe.”

For more information, please see:

List of Certified Credentialing Agencies
Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities
Principles on Safe Policing and Use of Force
Safe Policing for Safe Communities Fact Sheet (December 3, 2020)
The Department of Justice Announces Standards for Certifying Safe Policing Practices by Law Enforcement Agencies
COPS Office Training Portal

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