CHICAGO — In alignment with its commitment to system-level changes to protect public health and combat the detrimental effects of police violence on the health of the nation, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD) adopted policy today focused on recommendations for evidence-based policing reform.

Building on previous efforts to address the impact of police violence on health—particularly among historically marginalized communities—the policy adopted at the Special Meeting of the HOD outlines a holistic approach to policing reform that directs the AMA to take the following steps to help tackle the issue:

  • Urge the development of policy to advance evidence-based policing
  • Support efforts to create evidence-based law enforcement standards
  • Advocate for sentinel event reviews in the criminal justice system following adverse events like an in-custody death
  • Encourage further research by subject matter experts on issues related to the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies and its impact on communities
  • Advocate for greater police accountability
  • Back procedurally just policing models
  • Promote greater community involvement in policing policies and practices

“For far too long, inequitable law enforcement practices have had both a direct and vicarious impact on our patients in Black and Brown communities,” said AMA Board of Trustees Member Willie Underwood III, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. “The AMA is strongly invested in the betterment of public health and remains committed to advocating for actionable reform to eliminate excessive police violence in historically marginalized communities. We value the opportunity to contribute the scope of the AMA’s expertise to the national conversation on policing—especially as it relates to improving the health of our patients and the overall health of the nation.”

Much research has outlined the public health effects of violence between law enforcement officers and individuals from historically marginalized communities, including data showing that Black, Latino, and Indigenous individuals are disproportionately subjected to excessive police force and racial profiling, and data showing the correlation between violent policing and adverse health outcomes.

The new policy joins numerous other related AMA policies on topics such as: law enforcement procedures, the public health threat of racism, and police brutality as a manifestation of systemic racism. Other recent AMA actions include advocacy urging lawmakers to act on necessary policing reforms and a Board of Trustees pledge denouncing racism and police brutality.

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.