Conducting Stops & Detentions: Lessons Learned Recommendations from Civil Rights Litigation

Engage in social interactions with community members, but ensure that any contacts are voluntary where there is no legal authority to stop or detain the person

  • To build relationships and allow the community to ask questions

Baltimore, MD           Ferguson, MO           Newark, NJ           Seattle, WA

Strive for professional, courteous, fair, and productive contacts with the community

Baltimore, MD           Ferguson, MO           New Orleans, LA           Newark, NJ

Train officers on the value of community-oriented policing

  • Provide skills and techniques to effectively engage with community members

Baltimore, MD           Newark, NJ           Seattle, WA

When conducting investigatory stops

  • Officers introduce themselves by name, rank, and agency
  • Inform the subject of the reason for the stop or detention as soon as possible
  • Inform the subject that they do not have the right to leave but that they do not need to answer questions
  • Alert the subject if they are being recorded by any device (e.g. body-worn camera, dashcam)
  • Ensure that the detention is no longer than necessary
  • Ensure they are conducted in accordance with the rights protected by the Constitution and state, federal, and local laws

Alamance County, NC          Baltimore, MD          Cleveland, OH          East Haven, CT          Ferguson, MO                Los Angeles County, CA      Newark, NJ               New Orleans, LA     Puerto Rico                 Seattle, WA

Refrain from restricting an individual’s freedom during an investigatory stop or detention in any of the following ways (unless there is a basis for justifying the action): 

  • Taking away a person’s identification
  • Ordering a motorist to exit the vehicle
  • Placing a pedestrian against a wall
  • Directing a person to stand or remain standing not of their choosing
  • Directing a person to lie on the ground
  • Applying handcuffs
  • Placing someone in a police vehicle
  • Frisking
  • Unholstering or pointing a weapon

Baltimore, MD           Ferguson, MO  

Refrain from transporting subjects of an investigatory stop or detention if there is a lack of probable cause for an arrest

  • This includes transporting for fingerprinting, questioning, or other investigatory purposes

Baltimore, MD           Detroit, MI           Ferguson, MO

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.  When additional information was needed, subject-matter experts for the Department of Justice provided input. 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.

Do you have resources to share with the field? Are you an agency that is doing this work as well?

Do you have resources to share with the field? Are you an agency that is doing this work as well?