Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Maria (Maki) Haberfeld

Committee Members

Peter Mameli

Frank Pezzella

Sanja Kutnjak Ivkovich

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


14141, Consent Decree, Multiple Streams, Police, Systemic Misconduct, Mixed-Methods


Passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Law Enforcement Misconduct Statute 42 U.S.C. 14141 (§ 14141) authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate, and enter into a court-enforceable structural reform agreement with a law enforcement agency engaged in patterns or practices of systemic misconduct, violations of federal law, and unconstitutional policing.

Under § 14141 authority, 33 investigations of municipal police have been conducted since 1994 where the DOJ determined that a police agency was engaged in, or at unreasonable risk of engaging in, a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. Publicizing this determination, a DOJ issued findings letter is the resultant output of a § 14141 investigation, detailing a variety of organizational deficiencies related to polices, practices, procedures, and systems contributing to systemic misconduct and unconstitutional policing.

Using a mixed-methodological approach, this study sought to identify, describe, explore, and analyze phenomena concomitant to DOJ findings of a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing for municipal police agencies under § 14141 authority. Through an embedded design, the qualitative methodology consisted of analyzing DOJ’s findings letters for latent and manifest content describing policies, practices, procedures, and systems in need of reform. Supporting the qualitative analysis, the quantitative portion consisted of analyzing variables integrating disjointed incrementalism, deterrence, and the multiple streams framework theories. The quantitative analysis was designed to better understand influences on patterns or practices of police behavior, organizational decision-making across investigative outcomes, and between generations of §14141 enforcement.

These analyses led to an explication of the meaning and contours of unconstitutional policing, the creation of a compendium of policies and practices to address systemic problems in municipal police agencies, and a four-step prescriptive model that can be used to forestall systemic misconduct and unconstitutional policing, obviating the potential for § 14141 investigation, intervention, loss of autonomy, and federal oversight. In addition, an exploration of policy options for the continued enforcement of § 14141 is presented based on the analysis of past enforcement practices, and emerging conditions.