The police are charged with enforcing laws and safeguarding public safety, but an overreliance on punitive enforcement, even for the most minor infractions, has produced a revolving door for people to enter and re-enter the justice system, often resulting in unnecessary incarceration. Moreover, police are expected to respond to a broad range of social issues from: family disputes to mental health crises, to substance use. Law Enforcement personnel are often ill suited to deal with the myriad social problems to which they currently respond. Worse, asking law enforcement to engage in so many situations they are not trained to deal with heightens the risk of police using unnecessary force.
There are growing calls from communities, policymakers, elected officials, and law enforcement officials to advance alternatives to enforcement that maximize public safety and enhance community relations, curb unnecessary police violence, and rebuild community trust. The Brennan Center’s Justice Program tracks changes jurisdictions are taking to advance innovative policy proposals to change the culture and practice of American policing.