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January 9, 2024 min read

Photo of a police officer. Police training software supports compliance with consent decrees.

Today’s Police Consent Decrees And How Technology Can Help

Industry:

Law EnforcementPublic Safety

Solution:

Vector LMS

How does your law enforcement agency plan to adapt in an era of changing expectations, social friction, and continued public scrutiny? Police reform is an ongoing issue nationwide—and consent decrees may be a major factor.

According to Vera, police consent decrees originated in 1990s when Congress granted the Justice Department the power to investigate when it was found there was a “pervasive misconduct.”

The federal government entered into a number of consent decrees with local law enforcement during the Obama administration, but largely dismissed them during the Trump administration. More recently, the Biden administration has once again utilized police consent decrees as a tool for police reform.

As the next election looms closer, consent decrees may be once again sidelined, or their use may continue. However, whether new decrees are put in place or not, departments currently under consent decree will continue to be required to make changes to meet milestones established in these agreements.

Additionally, should the next administration continue their use, or even accelerate it, how can agencies ensure they won’t be faced with an investigation or consent decree of their own?

What do consent decrees mean for departments?

Consent decrees are legally binding documents directed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that outline required changes in a law enforcement agency. For example, one notable decree between the DOJ and the Los Angeles Police Department, entered into in 2001 and lifted in 2013, included mandates to address and report on the following:

  • Management and supervisory measures to promote Civil Rights Integrity
  • Procedures, documentation, investigations, and reviews related to use of force, search and arrest, complaints, etc.
  • Management of gang units
  • Management of confidential informants
  • Program development for response to persons with mental illness
  • Integrity audits
  • Operations of the Police Commission and Inspector General
  • Community outreach and public information

All of these are essential parts of policing. However, the risk of facing a consent decree requires any functional agency to address matters like these—and other problems that arise—internally, evolving and improving their policy, process, and training practices as they go.

How software solutions can help in the age of consent decrees

It’s fair to say that regularly-examining and updating department policies helps align with new social norms and to encourage best practices amongst officers. With todays added societal pressures, it’s become an imperative first step to avoiding ending up in the news for the wrong reasons.

Two key factors in all these calls for reform are accountability and transparency. Agencies must be able to track training and behavior and report that data to overseeing entities within the state—and possibly even to the federal government.

Law enforcement comes with a certain amount of inherent risk, but the right software can help reduce risks associated with training, policies, conduct, and more.

Managing even a small group of people and watching for every red flag is all but impossible, and the challenge only grows with the size of the agency.

Solutions that increase visibility of all internal data—from training and disciplinary history to compliance and beyond—can be the perfect tool to aid police agencies in this new age of consent decrees.

That kind of data is essential when dealing with the potential of increased scrutiny, and it’s the kind of thing you don’t really miss until you truly need it.

With Vector Solutions suite of training and operational management software, you can get exactly the data you need at a glance: compiled, centralized, and ready to share and analyze.

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Learn more about how we can help you stay compliant with modern standards, protect your organization from litigation, and make your people better than ever at their jobs.

Vector Solutions’ suite of industry-leading software solutions for law enforcement also includes online training courses, FTO/PTO/CTO/live skill evaluations, academy automation, equipment and inventory management, and an early intervention and conduct management system.

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