30 Guiding Principles

th-1This is one of the major breakthroughs in American policing: a set of 30 guiding principles on the use of force. Now the work begins. Now is when high quality leadership is needed and for community leaders to held with their implementation. Together we can do this!

Here’s 10 of the 20 recommendations for a starter:


Use of Force: Taking Policing to a Higher Standard

January 29, 2016

30 Guiding Principles

  1. The sanctity of human life should be at the heart of everything an agency does.
  1. Departments should adopt policies that hold themselves to a higher standard than the legal requirements of Graham v. Connor.
  2. Police use of force must meet the test of proportionality.
  3. Adopt de-escalation as formal agency policy.
  4. The Critical Decision-Making Model provides a new way to approach critical incidents.
  5. Duty to intervene: Officers need to prevent other officers from using excessive force.
  6. Respect the sanctity of life by promptly rendering first aid.
  7. Shooting at vehicles must be strictly prohibited.
  8. Prohibit use of deadly force against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves
  9. Document use-of-force incidents, and review your data and enforcement practices to ensure that they are fair and non-discriminatory.


Click HERE for the full report.


  1. David, what I see here are some of those who have been responsible for letting things get out of hand now patting themselves on the back for their role in putting forth some modest recommendations most of which we have seen before. I am not impressed!


    1. ,Karl, I’d be interested in more about what you have to say. My sense is that there was a lot of resistance to de-escalation and proportionality and locking into Graham v. Connor as an excuse/explanation. I’m open to hearing more of your thoughts…


  2. David, firstly, I am speaking in generalities. Most of those in leadership roles should have seen the current problems coming. If they didn’t see it, they were incompetent and if they saw it and did not do anything about it, that is even worse. As far as the principles go, there is nothing there that hasn’t been discussed over the past 45 years of my watching things and much of it was talked about before that. Yes the Graham v Connor case doesn’t go back as far but the issue of the use of deadly force and recommendations regarding greater restraint and proportionality go way back.
    I don’t see anything here that is concrete or that does anything other than make some leaders give the appearance they are being responsive and progressive in their thinking. It may serve some in getting another or better chief job, but I doubt it will have any significant impact on the problem at hand. We have been here before and I am sure you know that better than I do.
    I see the problems as an erosion of public trust, negative factors of the police subculture, and poor leadership. Many “leaders” talk the talk but don’t take meaningful steps to improve things. They will talk about things like evidence based policing but ignore evidence when it comes to stress training, the selection of BDU type uniforms, harmful effects of increased militarization of local police, latent biases regarding race, over emphasis on officer safety, etc. all of which contribute in some way to the aggressive policing we are trying to curb. They talk of community policing while at the same time letting it die a slow death.
    I was looking at a copy of the Task Force Report on Police circa 1967 (I don’t throw anything away) the other day and was reminded that many of the issues and even some of the same proposed solutions have been seen before. At this point, I am not optimistic.


    1. Well said, Karl. I am a child of the 1967 President’s Commission Report on Police. Forty plus years and not much improvement! You have spoken well. There remain many, many dragons to harness and tame!


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