The University of Nebraska College of Law has joined other U.S. law schools and the American Bar Association to address issues in policing and police work.
Richard Moberly, dean of the College of Law, said in an email that the Legal Education Police Practices Consortium is a group of experts from dozens of law schools examining and addressing legal issues in policing and public safety, including conduct, oversight and the evolving nature of police work.
Jo Potuto, Richard H. Larson professor of constitutional law and Nebraska’s representative for the consortium, said the College of Law joined the consortium to ensure that law enforcement practices are appropriate and geared towards doing their job well. Also, the College of Law joined to strive for fair play and racial justice, and the consortium offers opportunities to UNL law students to get first hand experience.
“I think the more we all learn about what it takes to do the law enforcement job, the better off we’re going to be,” Potuto said.
Moberly said the College of Law wanted to be a part of the national and local discussion on the topic of police practices and their impact on communities, especially as they relate to black, indigenous and people of color in the community.
“It is one of the many efforts we are taking to ensure that our faculty and students are able to engage in important discussions about race, equality and the law and then to be involved in implementing systemic improvements that will advance justice,” Moberly said.
Potuto said effective and strong law enforcement in communities are needed across the country, whether that is racial, ethnic, religious, low income or high income communities.
“We need to be sure that law enforcement is operating under the right protocols and policies,” Potuto said. “That’s what the consortium is designed to do.”
The consortium will make recommendations to the American Bar Association that will be implemented into the law college curriculum, according to Potuto. Potuto said law students could get the opportunity to conduct research, work on projects, publish papers or have internships.
“Really anything a law student can do that broadens this experience, particularly if it’s something they think they’d like to do as a career, then it’s a wonderful opportunity,” Potuto said.
Potuto said one of the important parts of the consortium is finding a way to weed out police officers and law enforcement who are not acting in accordance with the law before somebody gets hurt or dies. With discussions surrounding police brutality and racial justice, Potuto said believing in racial justice and being supportive of the police are not exclusive of one another.
“We got to eliminate the dichotomy and realize that we’re all working together to achieve both those goals, and I think the consortium can go a long way in doing that,” Potuto said.