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  • June 15, 2011
  • Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
  • Contact: Sheila Jerusalem
  • (202) 307-0703


Justice Department Publication Examines Disciplinary Procedures in Law
Enforcement Agencies

WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today published the ninth publication from the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety, a roundtable managed by Harvard Kennedy School's Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management and funded by NIJ. The Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety brought together police chiefs, union leaders, academics and criminal justice policy leaders from across the country for seven meetings over three years to find solutions to today's most pressing law enforcement issues.

Police Discipline: A Case for Change was written by Darrel Stephens, a member of the Harvard Executive Session and Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. He examines the challenges of managing disciplinary procedures in law enforcement agencies and the difficulties of reforming officer behavior. The disciplinary process is an ongoing source of conflict and tension for the law enforcement community. The process can be ineffective because punitive measures may do little to change behavior, and appeals processes can sometimes take an excessively long time to complete.

Stephens suggests the best option for reforming disciplinary policies and practices is an environment that uses formal disciplinary procedures as the last and least frequently used option. He suggests intervention at the lowest level possible, fair and consistent application of discipline, a focus on activity that changes behavior, timely action on disciplinary cases, and transparent policies and procedures. The paper also examines alternative disciplinary approaches undertaken by police departments around the country, such as the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's philosophy of consistency and fairness in discipline, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's "Education-Based" approach.

TITLE: Police Discipline: A Case for Change, part of the Executive Session on
Policing and Public Safety series published by NIJ.
AUTHOR: Darrel Stephens
WHERE: National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NCJ234052


The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information about OJP and its components can be found at