Lexipol is a privately-owned company that sells policy manuals, online training courses, officer "wellness resources," and other products to police departments throughout the US.
Note: This company profile was written as part of AFSC's 2022 report Equipped for War: Exposing Militarized Policing in California.
Lexipol LLC is a privately-owned company headquartered in Frisco, Texas. It was founded in 2003 in Southern California by former police officers turned lawyers Gordon Graham and Bruce Praet. Lexipol is owned by Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR LLC, which acquired it in 2021 for an undisclosed amount. Between 2014 and 2021, Lexipol was owned by private equity firm The Riverside Company.
Lexipol specializes in developing "legally sound defensible policies" for police departments, as well as fire and other public safety agencies. The company offers more than 170 state-specific policing policies, including on use of force, "biased-based policing," and "public recording of law enforcement activity." In addition, Lexipol offers online training courses through its PoliceOne Academy platform, consulting and grant writing services, document storage tools, and officer "wellness resources." The company also runs Police1, an "industry news site," for law enforcement personnel.
Lexipol's policies prioritize police discretion over public safety by deliberately using vague language that allows police officers maximum flexibility. For example, its template use-of-force policy permits deadly force in the face of an "imminent" threat, including any situation in which an officer "reasonably believes" someone has a weapon and intends to use it. The policy does not require the presence of an immediate threat, or the use of de-escalation tactics to disarm the individual.
Lexipol never claims that its policies improve public safety. Its highly discretionary policies aim to reduce legal liability and financial risk for police departments. As its "proven results," Lexipol claims that its "court-tested" policies have reduced lawsuits filed against police departments and the amounts they had to pay to resolve suits that were filed. In one of its promotional brochures headlined "Reduce Risk and Costs with Proven Policies," Lexipol highlights reducing liability and protecting departments against "high-risk areas," such as "mentally ill subjects."
Company co-founder Praet has also trained officers not to use text messages to communicate about use-of-force incidents, as such information is discoverable in litigation, and to clean up blood of individuals harmed in use-of-force incidents so that they appear less injured in photos that might later be used at trial.
Lexipol's off-the-shelf policies grew in popularity among law enforcement agencies over the years, making it a "leading national police policymaker" and "the single most influential provider of police policy nationwide." Its client base grew rapidly from 40 law enforcement agencies in California in 2003 to some 8,000 agencies in at least 35 states. In California, the company claimed to serve 95% of police agencies in 2012, and a 2018 survey found that 166 of the state's 200 largest law enforcement agencies, or 83%, were using Lexipol policies. According to information compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, at least 379 law enforcement agencies use Lexipol's policies as of 2021, raising questions "about whether police are soliciting guidance from the community or policy makers or...simply accepting the recommendations from a private company that is not accountable to the public."
Lexipol does not see police violence as a problem and has consistently promoted a militarized model of policing. For example, the company has used images of heavily armed law enforcement dressed in military-style combat uniforms in its educational materials, instructed officers to "train like [they] fight," and declared that "99.9%" of police shootings are "good shooting[s]."
Lexipol's use-of-force policies have been connected to several high-profile police shootings of Black men in the U.S. For example, Lexipol sold policies to the Pasadena Police Department, which killed Anthony McClain in 2020. Lexipol also wrote policies for the Brooklyn City, Minn. and Pasquotank County, N.C. police departments responsible for fatally shooting Duante Wright and Andrew Brown Jr. in 2021, respectively. In the wake of these killings, Everytown for Gun Safety and other organizations called on law enforcement agencies and municipalities across the country to reject Lexipol's use-of-force policies, saying that "[t]he reckless policies espoused by Lexipol have contributed to the plague of police violence in the U.S., which disproportionately impacts Black people."
Lexipol publicly advocates against legislation aimed at limiting police discretion. For instance, in 2017, after California lawmakers proposed AB-931,—a bill that would limit police use of deadly force to "those situations where it is necessary"—Lexipol called on "law enforcement, from chief executives down to line officers" to "actively campaign for its defeat." On Twitter, Lexipol warned that the bill was "bad for law enforcement, the legal system and the community." After AB-931 failed to pass, Lexipol similarly advocated against its 2019 successor bill AB-392. While this bill passed, company co-founder Praet publicly took credit for watering it down.
Lexipol policies have also exacerbated the jailing and deportation of immigrants by U.S. immigration authorities by urging local law enforcement agencies to illegally enforce federal immigration law. In 2018, the City of Spokane, Wash. agreed to pay damages to a man the Spokane police unlawfully detained and held for U.S. Border Patrol officers after he was the victim of a car accident. According to the ACLU, the police acted based on "a faulty model immigration policy from Lexipol," which incorrectly authorized officers to assist in immigration enforcement. Lexipol subsequently updated its policy in Washington,—and in other states, including California, that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities—but the company continues to provide the same faulty policy in other states. Lexipol has also instructed officers to consider English proficiency and race to establish reasonable suspicion that an individual "has committed an immigration violation."