Title 42 U.S. C. § 14141 authorizes the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") to seek injunctive relief against local law enforcement agencies to eliminate a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct by these agencies. Rather than initiate lawsuits to reform these agencies, DOJ's current strategy is to negotiate reforms using a process that involves only DOJ representatives, municipality officials, and police management officials. While there are many benefits of negotiating the reforms, the current process excludes important stakeholders directly impacted by the reforms, including community members, who are the consumers of police services, and the rank-and-file police officers, whom the reforms may adversely impact. The exclusion of these groups is not only inconsistent with general norms of democratic inclusion, but it is also inconsistent with the paradigm of community policing that emphasizes the benefits of police-community partnerships. Ultimately, exclusion of these stakeholders undermines the legitimacy of the reforms, thereby threatening the implementation and permanence of the reforms. This Article advocates that in order to ensure broader stakeholder participation in the context of DOJ's enforcement of § 14141, DOJ should formally adopt the paradigm of regulatory negotiation, a process that has been used successfully in administrative rulemaking. Applying the regulatory negotiation model to police reform has important implications such as greater cooperation among those implementing the reforms and the creation of innovative solutions to address police misconduct that are specifically tailored to the respective community.

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2008

Publication Information

98 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 489-546 (2008)