Media Supermajority Education Fund

A List of Policing Reforms U.S. Cities and States Have Made In Response to Protests


The Black Lives Matter Movement is quickly becoming the largest social movement in United States history. In recent weeks, the deaths of Black people across the country — including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks — have inspired millions of people to take the streets in protest. A number of polls, including those conducted by Civis Analytics and Pew, suggest that between 15 million and 26 million people in the United States have participated in such demonstrations in June alone. 

These protestors have called for a wide range of demands of their city and state governments. These demands have included the abolition of youth jails, the elimination of programs that offer military equipment to local police departments, and to remove “school resource officers” out of schools. 

While there are undoubtedly many conversations and efforts to this effect still taking place across the country, here’s how some cities and states have already responded to protester’s demands thus far.

Atlanta

Under Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, police officers must

  • Use de-escalation tactics before using physical or deadly force. 
  • Report all uses of deadly force to the city’s citizen review board. 
  • Be required to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force and must immediately report the use of force to a supervisor. 

Bottoms will also sign an administrative order to create a body to share grievances and propose solutions regarding police violence.

New York

New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a package of police reform bills that includes

  • A bill that makes the use of “a chokehold or similar restraint” that causes injury or death a class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. 
  • A bill amending statute Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law, which allows the disciplinary records of police officers, firefighters, or corrections officers to be released without their written consent. 
  • A bill designating the attorney general as an independent prosecutor for cases relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.

Seattle

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to

  • Stop police from using tear gas, pepper spray, and several other crowd control devices.
  • The measure also bans Seattle police from owning, renting, storing, or using such weapons, including chemical irritants, water cannons, acoustic devices, or other weapons that can cause pain or discomfort on multiple people. 
  • The council also unanimously passed a separate measure banning the use of chokeholds by police.

Albuquerque

Democratic Mayor Tim Keller announced a new revolutionary group, Albuquerque Community Safety. The group will consist of unarmed social workers, housing and homelessness specialists, and violence prevention coordinators to respond to 911 calls about homelessness, intoxication, drug use, addictions, and mental health instead of police.

Colorado

Colorado has passed Senate Bill 217, which: 

  • Bans the use of chokeholds and carotid control holds
  • Limits when police are allowed to shoot at a fleeing person
  • Requires officers to intervene in cases of excessive force or face criminal charges 
  • Requires all officers to use body-worn cameras and departments to release the footage within 45 days. 
  • Prohibits police officers from using deadly force to stop someone suspected of a minor or nonviolent offense.

California

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a proposed agenda for police reform which included the following recommendations:

  • Police officers turn in their badges for serious misconduct
  • Law enforcement agencies complete investigations even after the police officer leaves the department
  • Banning the use of pepper spray against children in juvenile detentions
  • Banning chokeholds and any positioning intended to cut off the flow of blood to a suspect

Minneapolis

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to: 

  • Commit to a yearlong effort to research other models of public safety with the input of residents.
  • Create a “Future of Community Safety Work Group” to listen to residents, interview experts, and study various public safety models to determine how various city services could replace many of the Police Department’s current functions. 
  • Ask voters to approve rewriting a section of the City Charter to eliminate a provision that dictates a minimum number of police officers.