For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in legislatures, courts, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.

The Affiliate Support and Advocacy Department of the ACLU’s National Office in New York City seeks a full-time Police Practices Specialist.

OVERVIEW

Good police practices, thorough training, carefully crafted policies, strong civilian oversight, and appropriate allocation of resources in law enforcement improve public safety and relationships between police officers and citizens.  Unfortunately, data from across the nation and high-profile incidents increasingly raise questions about racial, religious, and other forms of biased-based profiling, selective enforcement, excessive force, and militarization.  In addition to law enforcement being the front line of the failed War on Drugs, the police are increasingly involved in enforcing terrorism and immigration laws, controlling and quelling political protests, handling school safety and discipline, providing local governments’ responses to homelessness and mental illness, and using surveillance and police powers to gather an array of personal data, as well as becoming equipped with a wide range of technologically advanced, and in some cases military grade, weapons and surveillance equipment.

The ACLU is the nation’s leading watchdog against police abuse and corruption, and an outspoken advocate for police reform.  To build trust, we need a democratic system of policing where our communities have a much larger say in the way their neighborhoods are policed.  Collaboration, transparency, and communication between police and communities around the shared goals of equality, fairness, accountability, and public safety is the path forward.

Across the country, ACLU affiliates have long worked to hold police accountable.  In Missouri, the ACLU was on the ground in Ferguson, monitoring police conduct, educating protestors about their rights, and defending those rights in court.  In New York, the ACLU was a leader in the successful campaign to end New York City’s “stop and frisk” abuses and is now working to reform the NYPD’s approach to enforcement of low-level violations.  In Arizona, the ACLU won a major class action lawsuit to stop racial profiling and illegal detentions of Latinos by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.  In California, the ACLU worked to successfully revise the LAPD’s unfair daytime curfew practices that targeted students of color.  In Washington State, the ACLU led the call by 34 community organizations requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the Seattle Police Department after a string of incidents involving unnecessary or excessive force against persons of color. In Puerto Rico, the ACLU called attention to a host of police abuses ranging from use of excessive and lethal force to failure to investigate rape and other gender based crimes.  In Ohio, the ACLU plays a central role in implementing, promoting, and defending an innovative plan devised to improve police-community relations in Cincinnati.  These are only a few recent examples of the ACLU’s work in states and cities across the country to reform police practices.

Nationwide system reform is necessary.  The Police Practices Specialist will provide leadership for the ACLU’s nationwide advocacy to defend civil liberties against police misconduct, develop policies and best practices across a range of policing issues, and anticipate and respond to emerging policing trends.  The ACLU approaches its policing work through integrated strategies including litigation, public education, strategic communications, and local, state, and federal advocacy.  This work raises many interrelated areas of concern for the ACLU, including racial justice, criminal law reform, ending mass incarceration, immigrants’ rights, free speech, privacy and technology, national security, human rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, juvenile justice, and the school-to-prison pipeline.  As part of the ACLU’s Advocacy Team, the Police Practices Specialist will work closely with ACLU affiliates and national colleagues to advance the ACLU’s nationwide agenda to hold police accountable and improve police practices and institutions.

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