Citizen Review Boards
Of Police Departments.

All across the U.S. there are citizens who take part in overseeing
their local police agencies through citizen review boards.  

The most common purpose to these review boards are to investigate
reports of police misconduct and corruption, and to recommend that
a high-ranking administrator and other appropriate government
officials look into the matter.  

Review Boards that involve investigating citizen complaints against
police officers can help “reassure the public that investigations of
citizen complaints are thorough and fair”.

Often the board will issue reports to the community documenting
the police department's responsiveness to its recommendations,
as well as statistical breakdowns with regard to such things as types
of complaints, findings, location by district, and the number of officers
with a history of multiple complaints.

Police review boards increased 74 percent between 1990 and 1994,
and has experienced steady growth over the past 25 years.

Benefits to review boards include:

1.   “Citizens feel "validated" when the oversight body agrees
with  their allegations-or when they have an opportunity to be
heard by an independent overseer regardless of the outcome.

2.   Citizens are satisfied at being able to express their concerns
in person to the officer.

3.   Feel they are contributing to holding the department
accountable for officers' behavior.

4.  Police and sheriff's department administrators have reported
that citizen oversight:

Another important aspect is that local elected and appointed officials
say an oversight procedure:

Enables them to demonstrate their concern to eliminate police

Reduces in some cases the number of civil lawsuits
(or successful suits) against their cities or counties.”

In the New York City Police Department, a Civilian Complaint Review
Board (CCRB) has been established since 1953, to investigate
complaints made by the public against police officers.

Under present standards, the CCRB can investigate complaints
involving discourtesy, excessive force, offensive language, and
abuse of authority.  

The mayor appoints all thirteen members of the CCRB, five members
are chosen by the mayor; five members represent each of the city’s
five boroughs and are chosen by the city counsel; and the Police
Commissioner chooses three.  

The CCRB is also backed by all-civilian investigators, which have the
power to compel witness testimony, and subpoena documents
(Amnesty International).

Are such Citizen Police Review Boards effective?
A number of studies have examined the effectiveness of various
models of citizen police review boards. In general, the success of an
oversight board has been found to be contingent on the degree of its
true independence from the police department, the measure of
genuine commitment to its success on the part of all interested
parties in the community, and the depth of public trust in its

An effective board must also address and incorporate a mandate to
make policy recommendations, so that it is involved in structural
reform and not merely in the discipline of individual officers.

You may want to see if there is an existing Citizens
Review Board for your local Police Department and get
involved.  If you are interested, usually review boards
only require a few hours per month.  

If your community does not have one you may want to
think about starting one!

HouseWifeMafia would like to mention that the idea of starting a
Citizens Review Board is not always a welcome one.

Our Police Officers have an awful lot asked of them, are placed in
dangerous situations, see the worst of the worst every day, and often
have very little support and recognition for what they do.  It is
important to start these kinds of things keeping the end goal of
justice in mind.  If you go in to it with ill towards anyone the endeavor
will not produce the results you want - which is a fair safe society.

Take the opportunity to ask for a ride along with your local police
department.  Go for more than one.  It will help you get a better
understanding of what these guys are up against every day and it will
help you understand the bigger picture more clearly.  This will help
you make more fair and accurate judgments in you work with the
Review Board.

This is not about cop-bashing.   Most police officers protect and
serve, and most police work their whole careers without firing their
police revolver, but the few bad ones must have strong action taken
against them, because they have the authority to take life and liberty,
in effect to abuse and kill citizens. They become like a cancer.
They also make the honest, hard working law enforcement officers
look bad.  

Citizen Review Boards give the residents an opportunity to not only
review complaints but to be proactive rather than reactive

The fact of the matter is that most Internal Affairs investigators are
very good at their jobs and are very professional, On the other hand,
there are investigators that shouldn't be there.
Those are the ones that will likely protect police officers who
committed misconduct. And when you have questionable outcomes,
community residents no longer trust the police departments to
police themselves.

Some regions of the country have given citizen panels investigative
powers, and they seem to be working.

In fact, a national organization that promotes the idea of creating
citizen review boards highly recommends that the groups be given
investigative authority.

"Without the power to obtain all necessary information, [such as]
officer testimony, physical evidence and medical records, a civilian
investigative panel cannot conduct thorough investigations," says
Sam Walker, an executive board member of the
National Association
for Citizen Oversight of Law Enforcement. "Lack of full subpoena
power would render the investigations almost meaningless."

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While Police Department Citizen Review Boards
are a great idea and can be very helpful to
communities it is important to remember:

Officer face incredible dangers and high amounts of
stress every day.

They do not get paid nearly well enough for what
they do.

Have to face the people every day that we would
most want to avoid.

Generally Police Department funding are stretched
very thin and officers have to make do with old
equipment and limited resources & back up.

Get involved to make &
keep things right but
don't be disrespectful
to the good people
who put their lives on
the line to keep us safe!
For example:

Read about the
officer to your right.

At least 21 law
officers have
burned to death
after their Crown
Victoria Police
Interceptors (patrol
cars, or CVPIs).

By the way,
law enforcement
agencies - Feds to
local still have
officers driving
around in these