Am I my brother’s keeper? Can duty to intervene policies save lives and reduce the need for special prosecutors in officer-involved homicide cases?

Delores Jones-Brown, Akiv Dawson, Kwan Lamar Blount-Hill, Kenethia Mc Intosh Fuller, Paul Oder, Henry F. Fradella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Duty to intervene (DTI) policies impose an obligation on peer officers to prevent or terminate unreasonable force occurring in their presence. But policing suffers from an organizational culture that may thwart this stated duty. By examining the facts related to the deaths of Eric Garner in New York, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and George Floyd in Minneapolis against existing DTI policies and the reasonableness requirement articulated in Graham v. Connor, we conclude that their deaths should have been prevented by officer intervention. In an empirical analysis of the standard operating procedures of the police departments for the 30 largest U.S. cities, we found that less than half had DTI policies and that the content of the existing policies varied significantly. This variation may have contributed to our finding that departments with DTI policies did not report fewer officer-involved deaths (OIDs) than departments without such policies. However, nearly half of the departments with DTI policies did report fewer multi-officer OIDs than single-officer OIDs. Compared to departments without DTI policies, more OIDs in departments with DTI policies resulted in formal charges. We recommend mandating the adoption of a uniform DTI policy as a mechanism for enhanced police accountability in officer-involved killings. .

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-351
Number of pages46
JournalCriminal Justice Studies
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Duty to intervene
  • officer-involved homicides
  • police use of force
  • race and policing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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