Model Use of Force Policy

Safe, Fair, and Equitable for Everyone

The Stanford Center for Racial Justice (SCRJ) is excited to refine and expand on the completed beta release of its newly developed Model Use of Force Policy, a collaboration with an experienced team of lawyers and former prosecutors with a major global law firm, along with other law enforcement and policy experts. Our Model Use of Force Policy is intended to contribute to the long line of efforts to improve and reform policing and promote practices that will be fair, safe, and equitable for everyone.

We are actively seeking feedback on all chapters of the beta version of the Model Policy. Read the chapters below, explore the supporting materials, and share your comments and feedback on the Model Policy with us.

Why Develop a Model Use of Force Policy?

In an introductory essay that details SCRJ’s motivations for developing its Model Policy, Executive Director George Brown explains how personal and professional experiences led him to reflect on ways the Center could address the challenge of police reform. These include work with the New Era in Public Safety: A Guide to Fair, Safe and Effective Community Policing in March 2019 and a public safety advisory committee for Santa Monica, California in 2020. Amid so many unnecessary deaths, particularly of Black people who interact with police, Brown said it’s clear that we need to do better to “make our society safer for everyone.”

Read the Full Essay

Essays and Explanatory Material

"It’s very difficult for community groups, civilians, and even local government officials, to engage in a detailed dialogue on equal footing with their local police agencies about how to change and improve local use of force policies."

George Brown, SCRJ Executive Director

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Model Use of Force Policy?

The SCRJ has been working on a Model Use of Force Policy to help small and mid-sized cities who want to review and update their current use of force policies. Its design draws from existing policies in over 100 cities around the country, with a goal to promote use of force policies that are fair, safe, and equitable for everyone.

What is covered in the policy?
What are the design themes?

There are three design features that are present throughout the Model Policy.

  • Authorization Standard: Provides a clear articulation of when an officer has permission to use force. Force is authorized when officers have a Lawful Objective and follow the Force Standard.
  • Force Standard: Governs the amount of force that can be used. The force used must be the least amount of force necessary to achieve a lawful objective. It must also be proportionate to the circumstances.
  • De-escalation: Adopts de-escalation techniques as an overall design feature that should be incorporated into officer tactics before any use of force is applied. Officers must continuously consider and deploy strategies to reduce the need for force before and during encounters.
What is the beta release?

SCRJ’s Model Policy has completed its beta release. With all chapters now available, we are actively seeking feedback on the Model Policy as we move into another phase of its implementation.

How can I help?

For questions, feedback, or to collaborate with us on the Model Policy, please use our Feedback Form.