A Basic Building Block of Transparency

Our work at the Policing Project is founded on the idea that policing must be a shared endeavor between communities and policing agencies. However, if the public does not have access to the police department manual — the document that sets and guides police policies and actions — it limits their ability to have a say in how their communities are policed. This is why we believe is it critical for police departments to post their manuals online — in fact, we consider it a basic building block of transparency.

When a manual is posted online, it informs the community about the department, demonstrates the department’s commitment to transparency and community involvement, and allows the department to showcase new or innovative policies. Any yet, shockingly few police departments actually post their manuals online, and of the ones that do, hardly any ensure the manual is posted in a way that is truly transparent.

This is why we created the Manuals Initiative, a project that aims to encourage police departments across the country to get their manuals online, in their entirety, and in a way that makes it easy for the public to find and understand.