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Federal Pattern or Practice Litigation


The U.S. Department of Justice is authorized to sue local law enforcement agencies where there is a “pattern or practice” of violating citizens rights. DOJ has reached consent decrees or memoranda of agreement (MOA) with several departments, including Pittsburgh, the New Jersey State Police, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati. Are “pattern or practice” suits an effective police accountability tool?

GO TO The separate page on this web site for an INDEX OF DOJ FINDINGS LETTERS AND CONSENT DECREES

Read Sam Walker and Morgan Macdonald’s article in the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal (2009).

Read The Harvard Study of the LAPD under a Consent Decree: Harvard-LAPD%20Study

Read the Vera Institute evaluation of the Pittsburgh Consent Decree, “Turning Necessity into a Virtue”: pittsburghcd-veraturningnecessity

Read: Stephen Rushin’s 2014 article “Federal Enforcement of Police Reform,” Fordham Law Review (which includes a good legislative history of Section 14141 of the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act): rushinfederalenforcement



Sustaining Reform in the New Jersey State Police

The federal pattern or practice suit against the New Jersey State Police represents a case study in the challenge of sustaining reform.

Read Walker’s 2006 Expert Opinion to the New Jersey Attorney General on creating a permanent for of independent oversight for the NJSP.

Read the 2007 report of the New Jersey Advisory Commission on Police Standards, which incorporates much of Walker’s recommendation.

Also Read Walker and Ikerd’s report Making Police Reforms Endure: The Keys for Success (2010) on the home page of this web site.