Citation in Lieu of Arrest: Examining Law Enforcement's Use of Citation Across the United States

With a renewed national focus on reform of the front end of the criminal justice system and community-police relations, stakeholders and high-profile collaborations such as the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing have recommended that law enforcement adopt preferences for “least harm” resolutions, including the use of citation in lieu of arrest for minor infractions. In the midst of such discussions, the IACP, with the support of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, undertook a three-pronged assessment to determine a baseline level of knowledge about the use and impact of citation in practice. The IACP’s examination included (1) an expansive review of 40 years of academic literature on the topic of citation use; (2) a nationwide survey of law enforcement agencies on their practices and perspectives on citation; and (3) a series of focus groups with a diverse group of law enforcement professionals to engage in a conversation about the potential benefits and challenges associated with citation in lieu of arrest. This combination of literature review, survey, and focus group research allows IACP to present one of the most definitive statements on past and present citation use by law enforcement in the United States and has resulted in several key findings.

Provider: IACP

Publication Date: April 2016

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