Lessons from the Military on Reforming Police Discipline
Julia E. Paranyuk
In recent years, there has been significant public debate concerning policing in the United States. Current events and recurring instances of police brutality have drawn attention to police misconduct and reinvigorated calls for systemic reforms to policing and police discipline. While there is a growing consensus in the United States among citizens, politicians, and even officers, that policing—and, in particular, police discipline procedure—requires reform, there is far less agreement as to what changes are necessary and feasible. In the U.S. military context, Congress enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which created a separate military law system that imposes punishment for various administrative and criminal offenses. Some police reform advocates have proposed enacting a UCMJ equivalent—a Uniform Code of Police Justice (UCPJ)—for the nation’s police forces. This Note argues in favor of adopting a UCPJ and proposes a recommended Code structure, while acknowledging that a UCPJ would not be a cure-all for our nation’s policing troubles; further systemic reforms would still be required.