What is the NDI, and Why is a National Index Necessary?

Rogue officers destroy trust, cost millions of dollars in settlements, and erode the esprit de corps of their units. But these “bad apple” cops often have jobs because of weak hiring and reporting practices in law enforcement. Even after states strip problem officers of their credentials, some move away—only to be hired by departments unaware of their past misconduct.

As such cases continue to be at the crux of many high-visibility incidents, states are now under increased pressure to provide transparency about misconduct in law enforcement.

The Solution: The National Decertification Index (NDI)

In 2020, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order and democrats in Congress proposed a bill to create a national database cataloging police brutality and officer misconduct.

What they failed to realize is that such a database already exists—and has existed for the past 20 years.

The National Decertification Index (NDI) is free to use for every police department in the U.S. and is currently utilized by 45 certifying agencies with the power to report officers who have been decertified for cause.

What is the NDI?

The NDI is a nationwide registry of law enforcement officer certificate or license revocation actions relating to misconduct. The information is provided via a secure internet-accessible platform developed and hosted by Envisage Technologies and is maintained by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST).

As a non-profit association of training managers, IADLEST promotes the NDI as an integral component of establishing effective and defensible standards for the employment and training of public safety personnel.

The NDI operates as a pointer system—referring searchers to the state POST that issued the decertification for details and rationale. POST agencies are permitted to query the NDI, as are hiring departments whose POST has granted access for pre-hire screening.

How Do You Use the NDI?

Participation in the NDI is free of charge for both agencies contributing information and agencies querying the database, though users must be verified and granted access. The NDI is intended for use by law enforcement agencies and POST organizations, and the information contained in the NDI is provided only by the participating state agencies responsible for licensing or revoking law enforcement certificates.

Querying the NDI will indicate whether the potential employee has been decertified by a state POST. When hiring, most agencies rely on their state POST boards to query the NDI on their behalf.

The Importance of Using the NDI for Hiring Practices

Officers connected to use-of-force incidents tend to have documented misconduct, and it is often discovered that such officers have been fired. There are various reasons behind such hiring mistakes.

In some cases, records aren’t shared by the previous department. In others, they aren’t checked by the hiring department.

More complicated still, given the varying policies and regulations of departments even within the same state, one officer’s misconduct may not have warranted prosecution or a major disciplinary action at the original department, but would preclude employment in the new jurisdiction.

With continued discussions of police reform, both the public and lawmakers tend to agree that policing needs a national standard, and law enforcement organizations are seeing increased pressure to establish a national database for mandatory officer decertification and misconduct reporting.

If adopted nationally, the NDI will prevent officers with revoked certification (as a result of gross misconduct, illegal activity, or other serious offense) from being rehired, even if they move to a new state.

Barriers to the NDI’s effectiveness

Currently, the NDI is not utilized as much as it should be. Knowledge of the database is not widespread, and among those agencies that are aware, many have not incorporated the NDI as a part of standard hiring and reporting procedures.

The NDI is designed to serve the needs of law enforcement hiring. However, inconsistent reporting, particularly across states where decertification criteria vary, hinders the effectiveness of the NDI.

Many states do not report decertifications regularly, and some do not even have a decertification authority. Additionally, hiring agencies that rely on their POSTs to check the database might discover that the NDI slips through the cracks among other background check tasks.

The NDI’s effectiveness is reliant on consistent and uniform reporting and use for employee candidate considerations. The more that states participate in providing decertification information, the more hiring departments can be assured that their candidates are not rogue officers dodging past misconduct.

What You Can Do to Promote the NDI

To find out more about the NDI or request access, visit IADLEST’s site. State agencies are encouraged to enter their decertification decisions into the database, where they can be reviewed by organizations considering law enforcement applicants.

Make sure your state’s certification agencies utilize the database, and follow up with them as part of your regular hiring procedures. If your state is not fully participating in the NDI, consider pressuring officials to do so.

To ensure the NDI is being used in your state:

  • Call your state’s certification agency and ask if they are contributing to the index and checking it regularly.
  • Make sure your own organization is checking the NDI during the hiring process.
  • Spread awareness to other agencies in the state to make sure they are taking advantage of this resource.

The Acadis® Readiness Suite is the only training management system (TMS) that allows direct reporting to the NDI. This approach relieves departments of the additional labor of gathering and submitting the information separately, thus expanding participation and improving overall compliance. By utilizing Acadis, you can easily share information to the national registry and help prevent bad hires in your state.

Posted on Mar 11, 2021