Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Uniform Code of Police Justice?

DePaul Law School Professor (and former Navy JAG) Monu Bedi and attorney (and Tennessee Army National Guard officer) Greg Everett, writing in National Review, propose a Uniform Code of Police Justice:
. . . Congress should adopt a Uniform Code of Police Justice (UCPJ) modeled after the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which currently applies to U.S. military personnel. Such a code would recognize the unique role that police officers play in our society by holding them criminally accountable for misconduct in the same way that military personnel can be held criminally accountable. Broadly speaking, a UCPJ would achieve this in two ways: (1) by adopting laws from the UCMJ, such as those covering conduct unbecoming an officer and dereliction of duty, that would place heightened legal obligations on officers in the performance of their duties; and (2) by more clearly defining what constitutes a justifiable use of force in the same way that the military’s rules of engagement are clearly defined. Indeed, violations of the military’s rules of engagement are criminally actionable under the UCMJ.
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While full implementation of a UCPJ would require states to act on an individual basis, Congress can act now by passing a UCPJ to govern the conduct of federal law-enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, and DEA. This code would serve as a model for states and constitute a necessary first step toward applying the principles of the UCMJ to the policing context. In fact, this is what states have already done by promulgating their own military codes patterned after the UCMJ that apply to soldiers in their National Guard units.
A tall order, certainly, but don't scoff. Read the whole article before you reach a conclusion. Comments (real names only, please) are particularly welcome. 

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