Rights of the Public: Lessons Learned Recommendations from Civil Rights Litigation

Prohibit officers from doing the following when determining whether to make an arrest:

  • Relying on information known to be false
  • Using an individual’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability as a factor in determining probable cause
    • Unless the information is a part of a credible description of a specific suspect in an investigation 
  • Using an individual’s geographic location (e.g. presence in a high crime area, proximity to the scene) without any other facts as a basis for an arrest
  • Using evidence discovered after the arrest was initiated as a basis for arrest
  • Using canned or conclusory language without supporting detail in reports

Protect the rights of the public to gather, observe, photograph, video record, and/or comment on officer conduct

Train officers on permissible exceptions to the rights of the public to record interactions per departmental policy

  • Recording cannot physically interfere with the performance of official duties, threaten safety of officers or public, violate the law, or incite others to violate the law

Document and report to supervisors instances where officers ordered members of the public to stop recording

  • Report to supervisors when they believe they were recorded by the public

Data, departmental policies, and reports summarizing analyses should be available to the public and posted online when possible.

The information provided above has come directly from the consent decree language, which can be accessed by clicking on each corresponding city’s consent decree. This information is intended to guide departments on decisions and actions to improve their Constitutional policing practices. Additional resources and information may be needed to implement these recommendations successfully. For assistance in implementing recommendations, contact the Knowledge Lab team.