top of page

Welcome to Crime and Justice News

Changes In Police Culture Needed To Cut Misconduct, Says DOJ's Gupta

Unless law enforcement examines police culture in depth, misconduct will likely be a reoccurring theme. Police departments have an obligation to hold conversations relating to training, use-of-force policies, and duties of intervention, and de-escalation to have accountability for ensuring the safety of communities, says Associate U.S. Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department's third-ranking official.

Reviewing police culture will show if officers, "...can operate and protect public safety in our communities," she said.

Gupta believes there needs to be a spotlight on having law enforcement officers that reflect the communities they are serving. During a webinar hosted by The Washington Post, Gupta emphasized the need on increasing the number of women officers in law enforcement. "There has to be policy and training, there has to be supervision when there's misconduct and there is no silver bullet for addressing culture," Gupta said.

Gupta described how the Department of Justice is working on providing tools to help with accountability within law enforcement.

In a country with 18,000 police departments, one of the ways DOJ can have the biggest impact is through funding. "We are funding de-escalation training and crisis intervention teams, and mental health co-response programs all over the country," an effort at changing the way officers respond to substance use disorders and mental health issues, Gupta said.

The DOJ has also been funding so-called collaborative reform initiatives, "where police chiefs and mayors know they have issues in their department, and can call on us to come in and work with them." This helps find the source of the problems which can help rebuild trust between law enforcement agencies and communities.

Gupta mentioned the executive order signed by President Biden last May that specified 90 planned actions by the Justice Department to advance effective, accountable policing and strengthen public safety.

The policies "focus on retention, recruitment, and hiring of officers, to the establishment of a national law enforcement accountability database, which would include information about officers' convictions, termination, sustained complaints...," Gupta said.

The President's authority is limited to the federal government, so state and local participation will be voluntary. "And we have in the executive order as well an accreditation scheme and our grants that we give to really incentivize state locals to participate until and unless Congress acts and passes legislation that makes it mandatory for all police agencies," Gupta said.

While tangible changes can increase public safety, ultimately conversations in law enforcement agencies will help improve public confidence, Gupta believes. She said, "It's law enforcement leaders, its command staff, it's rank and file, it's the police union that needs to be having these conversations."

Gupta said improving leadership at the local level will help evaluations of police culture and its implications. DOJ has been looking in providing guidance for police chiefs and making sure reviews are conducted of their units to prevent acts of misconduct.

She said that without more police-community trust, the challenges would be even more difficult. "And so that's why we are bringing all of the strategies we have to bear whether civil rights enforcement or to our funding and incentive and technical assistance, working with state and locals," Gupta said.


Recent Posts

See All


A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

bottom of page