Civilian Oversight for Police Officers Essay

Abstract

            Civilian oversight committee is a highly desirable option in terms of police officers. The rising complaints and the excessive use of force by police require closer public attention and control of policing activities. Civilian oversight committee is the necessary condition for decreasing the number of complaints against police officers.

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Civilian Oversight for Police Officers

            “Too frequently, we listen to accounts of the young and the old regarding their mistreatment at the hands of some of the members of the New York City Police Department” (Humm, 2007).

Civilian oversight committee for police officers is highly desirable due to frequent complaints against police misconduct. The desirability of civilian oversight in terms of police is explained by its high effectiveness in “publicizing the complaint process and explaining policing to members of community” (ACLU, 2000). The desirability of civilian oversight committee for police stems from the growing public concern about the use of excessive force. Civilian oversight is a necessary element in making policing activities more effective.

Civilian investigators should be involved into all cases of alleged force use (or misuse) by police officers. Although many cities possess effective mechanisms of dealing with police misconduct, these mechanisms are insufficient. Civilian oversight committee is initially intended at improving the police-community relations and avoiding the major conflicts with civilians.

            The need to promote civilian oversight of police officers faces one significant obstacle. “There remains genuine disagreement among advocates for police reform about the wisdom of a wholesale displacement of law enforcement’s internal apparatus in favor of outside review panels of lay persons” (Bobb, 2006). In this context, civilian oversight of police officers becomes even more desirable. When law enforcement agencies investigate an officer-involved shooting case, other police officers may produce initially biased investigation results.  Such investigations can either be half-hearted, or may omit substantial number of important witnesses. Officer-involved shooting may objectively be lawful, but may be morally and ethically inappropriate. Civilian oversight organizations are called for balancing law and morale in policing actions, and eliminating bias in such type of investigations. Civilian oversight committee is desirable to trace the cases of police wrongdoing and negligent conduct, which other police officers may not take seriously. Civilian oversight can effectively balance distorted relations between community and police.

References

ACLU. (2000). Citizen oversight agencies effective in fighting police misconduct. American

Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. Retrieved April 4, 2008 from http://www.aclu-em.org/pressroom/2000pressreleases/civilianoversightofpolice.htm

Bobb, M. (2006). Civilian oversight of the police in the United States. Retrieved April 4,

2008 from http://www.parc.info/client_files/Articles/1%20-%20Civilian%20Oversight%20of%20the%20Police%20(Bobb%202003).pdf

Humm, A. (2007). Policing the police. Gotham Gazette. Retrieved April 4, 2008 from

http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/issueoftheweek/20071009/200/2309

 

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