How to Use this Toolkit
Each section of the toolkit lays out:
- Background and context for the policy
- A section with key questions for local policymakers to consider as they assess the policy landscape in their jurisdictions
- A section on best practices with a worksheet for local policymakers to evaluate their jurisdiction’s standing in each area. This section includes a description of local elected authority and opportunities for influence over the policy area. It should be noted that these measures together would constitute a strong policy, but are not necessarily inclusive of all of the ways a jurisdiction can advance reform. Some sections also contain “Additional Considerations,” which offer additional ways to strengthen a jurisdiction’s work.
- A section highlighting lessons from the field, describing a jurisdiction’s progress towards each area of reform and lifting up examples of challenges and lessons learned
- A resources list with reports, data resources, and sample legislation
It is important to note that local elected officials can play a number of key roles in advancing policing reforms, regardless of city size and political makeup—and not all of these roles involve the legislation of policy itself. In some cases, elected officials may legislate the creation of a departmental policy but not its actual content (for example, many times in the case of police training). In other cases, local elected officials can be most helpful with budget advocacy to resource a program rather than with the passage of legislation to enact a program (for example, in the case of diversion programs). Under the “Best Practices” section for each policy, the toolkit describes the type of authority or role that elected officials likely have when it comes to influencing the recommended reform. These include:
Preemption and State Authority
In some cases, local jurisdictions may not be fully legally empowered to implement the reforms in this toolkit, but there is a growing movement of organizations challenging state level preemption, which is the use of state law to prevent a local ordinance. For example, Defend Local Solutions is a coalition of local mayors, commissioners, and community members and leaders that offers tools, resources, and resources to help fight preemption. The Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC) “is a coordinating hub that provides local governments, elected officials and advocates with the strategies, tools and assistance needed to defend local democracy and discourage the use of preemption.”
Elected officials must also often play the critical role of making the case as to why policing reforms, like any other area of local improvements, are necessary in their local jurisdictions. Here, elected officials should anchor their arguments in: 1) the demands and experiences of impacted communities and constituents; 2) the collection, analysis, and citation of data (with a particular examination of such data related to marginalized communities); and 3) a reliance on other jurisdictions’ experiences and outcomes.