Writing Sample: Civilian Oversight and Accountability
Law enforcement use of deadly and excessive force continues to create distrust among communities of color, while civilian oversight agencies aim to build community trust and confidence through external oversight. Historically, communities of colors have complained of excessive force or racism, which is “often the motivating factor behind the formation of civilian oversight boards” (Snow, 1992). Furthermore, current national events in which officer’s use deadly force has stimulated further interest in civilian oversight of law enforcement agencies. Citizens want their concerns addressed and civilian oversight agencies have the solution to address those concerns by effectively “investigating, reviewing, auditing, and analyzing individual cases or patterns of police misconduct” (Buchner, 2014). Therefore, to combat police misconduct, civilian oversight agencies have to effectively advocate for greater accountability mechanisms through data transparency and civic engagement.
Civilian oversight agencies can review law enforcement agency’s internal mechanisms to address issues of accountability. Critical incidents of excessive or deadly force causes citizens to lose trust in law enforcement review systems, procedures, and policies when law enforcement agencies do not hold officers accountable. Furthermore, citizens accuse law enforcement agencies of “unequally disciplining the same types of offenses, taking too long to investigate complaints, being unable to break through the code of silence among police officers, failing to keep the public apprised of complaint dispositions, and lacking computerized data systems to track needed information on misconduct incidents” (United States C...
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...re are many challenges to building accountability mechanisms for civilian oversight agencies. However, building an inclusive community through civic engagement will allow civilian oversight to maintain a strong presence within the community. The community will understand the role of civilian oversight agencies and even understand when law enforcement agencies do not hold officers accountable the civilian oversight agency will address those failures. Civilian oversight agencies can address failed law enforcement review systems, procedures, and policies with increased data transparency.
Citizens who understand the types of allegations and finding civilian oversight agencies review will build community trust. Despite the challenges to civilian oversight data transparency and civic engagement are a few building blocks to that can instill trust among communities of colors.
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