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What is Police Oversight and What are the Benefits of It?

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Police Oversight and What are the Benefits of It

Over the last few years, the U.S. have seen a growing divide between its citizens and the police force. Certain events across the country have led U.S. citizens to question the trustworthiness of the force and this has led to questions being raised regarding the transparency of internal investigations. This growing divide has led to police oversight boards being introduced across the United States. But what is a police oversight board and how does it work? Keep reading to find out more information:

Police Oversight

More and more cities across the U.S. have chosen to implement a police oversight board. Police oversight is also known as civilian oversight because a small group of non-police individuals work together to review the actions of the police force, including any complaints made against officers or departments. 

Oversight boards often include individuals who have had some experience in law enforcement in the past. This could include retired officials, mediators and attorneys. 

When Were Oversight Boards Introduced?

Police oversight boards were first introduced in the 1900s, but they were often unpopular. Nowadays these boards are becoming more popular with over 200 police oversight boards located across the U.S. 

Benefits of Police Oversight Boards

Police oversight boards not only benefit the complainant, but they often benefit the larger community, elected and appointed officials, and police and sheriff’s departments too. The benefits of these boards depend on how well the group works together, but some of the potential benefits include:

  • Complainants have a place where they can share their concerns
  • The sheriff or police department can be held accountable for their actions
  • Oversight agencies can improve the quality of investigations or alleged misconduct
  • The community can be reassured that appropriate discipline is being imposed
  • The disciplinary process is more transparent
  • When an oversight board agrees with a complainant’s allegation, they will feel vindicated
  • Community relations can be improved by fostering communication between the police agency and the community
  • Oversight agencies can help lower public worry about high profile cases
  • Oversight agencies help to increase the public’s knowledge of law enforcement procedures and policies
  • Procedures and policies can be improved by an oversight agency. Areas of concern can be identified quickly and recommendations can be made. This, in turn, will help improve policing. 
  • Oversight boards can help reduce the cost of litigation by spotting potential problems and suggesting alternative measures before a complainant files a lawsuit
  • Mediation has a number of benefits for both police officers and citizens. Oversight agencies that provide mediated solutions can help improve complainant’s satisfaction as the complainant can express their worries to the police officer in question in a neutral environment. Mediation can also improve a police officer’s understanding of how their behavior, words and attitude can affect members of the public. 
  • An oversight system can help reduce police misconduct and increase police accountability. 

There are a number of benefits to police oversight boards. All of the benefits mentioned above help to support community-orientated policing which seeks to employ problem solving techniques in order to work with the public to address their fears.

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