Getting Along with Citizen Oversight.Two Rochester, New York This article is about the city of Rochester in Monroe County. For the town in Ulster County, see Rochester, Ulster County, New York.
Rochester, once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City or , police officers arrested two young males allegedly for dealing drugs. One youth's mother claimed that the young men were innocently walking along the street when the officers approached them. She further alleged that one officer grabbed her son and threw him through a store window. Some community members became enraged en·rage
tr.v. en·raged, en·rag·ing, en·rag·es
To put into a rage; infuriate.
[Middle English *enragen, from Old French enrager : en-, causative pref. at what they perceived as police brutality Police brutality is a term used to describe the excessive use of physical force, assault, verbal attacks, and threats by police officers and other law enforcement officers. The term may also be used to apply to such behavior when used by prison officers. . When the city's citizen review board heard the case, however, it learned that the two males had drugs in their possession at the time of the arrest. Also, the store owner reported that the officers had remained polite and professional during the encounter and that the woman's son had pushed the officer into the store window. The review board discovered the truth, exonerated the officers, and calmed the community members. 
While this example illustrates how citizen oversight helped defuse de·fuse
tr.v. de·fused, de·fus·ing, de·fus·es
1. To remove the fuse from (an explosive device).
2. To make less dangerous, tense, or hostile: a potentially volatile situation, the relationship between law enforcement and citizen oversight often has proved strained, at best, or even adversarial ad·ver·sar·i·al
Relating to or characteristic of an adversary; involving antagonistic elements: "the chasm between management and labor in this country, an often needlessly adversarial . . . , in some cases. However, the 1990s showed a considerable increase in citizen oversight of police in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . In light of this expansion, police administrators and citizen oversight members must consider how they can work together with a minimum of conflict and a maximum of collaboration. 
Communities rarely create identical oversight systems Oversight Systems is a US company, founded in late 2003, which develops and sell computer software that helps businesses continually check for inside fraud, errors and other problems. . However, most of these review processes fall into four main types.
1) Citizens investigate allegations of police misconduct Police misconduct refers to objectional actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties, which can lead to a miscarriage of justice. Types of misconduct
2) Officers investigate allegations and develop findings. Then, citizens review and recommend that the head of the agency approve or reject the findings.
3) Complainants may appeal findings established by the agency to citizens who review them and make recommendations to the head of the agency.
4) An auditor investigates the process the agency uses to accept and investigate complaints and reports to the agency and the community the thoroughness and fairness of the process.
While some oversight procedures represent "pure" samples of these models, many exist as hybrids that merge features from two or more different varieties of citizen review into their own unique systems. For example, the Minneapolis, Minnesota “Minneapolis” redirects here. For other uses, see Minneapolis (disambiguation).
Minneapolis (pronounced IPA: /ˌmɪniˈæpəlɪs/) is the largest city in the U.S. , civilian police review operates in two stages. First, paid, professional investigators and an executive director examine most citizen complaints to determine whether there is probable cause Apparent facts discovered through logical inquiry that would lead a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that an accused person has committed a crime, thereby warranting his or her prosecution, or that a Cause of Action has accrued, justifying a civil lawsuit. to believe that police misconduct occurred. Then, volunteer board members conduct closed-door hearings to decide whether they should support the allegations in probable cause cases. However, in Orange County, Florida Orange County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida and is part of the Orlando-Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). As of 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population is 1,043,500.  The county seat is Orlando. , nine volunteer citizen review board members hold hearings, open to the public and the media, on all cases involving the alleged use of excessive force and abuse of power after the sheriffs department has investigated them. A member of the department helps coordinate the review board's activities. By comparison, 13 citizen advisors, appointed by the city council and neig hborhood coalitions in Portland, Oregon, hear appeals from citizens dissatisfied with police investigations of their complaints, review all closed cases involving allegations of the use of excessive force, and conduct random audits of internal affairs Internal affairs may refer to:
In many jurisdictions, law enforcement agencies have fought the initiation of citizen oversight. After communities have implemented such systems, agencies frequently have found them troublesome. Basically, most agencies have opposed citizen oversight because they feel that oversight procedures represent outside interference, oversight staff lack experience with and understanding of police work, and oversight processes are unfair.
Most police administrators believe that their agencies should have the final say in matters of discipline, policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental , and training. Because police administrators are in charge of their agencies, they are held accountable for their officers' behavior. Accordingly, without final say over matters that directly affect their officers, administrators feel that this accountability becomes undermined. Therefore, most jurisdictions have used a variety of approaches in addressing concerns about outside involvement in police affairs. In many communities, local governments have established oversight bodies that solely advise; they can make only nonbinding recommendations to law enforcement agencies. Also, some review bodies can appeal the agency's rejection of their recommendations to elected or appointed officials who can require the department to act. However, because these officials have this authority regardless of whether an oversight body exists, the oversight procedure itself does not further dimini sh the authority of agency administrators.
Even when citizen oversight systems have some authority over the police, they generally exercise it cautiously. For example, oversight bodies in St. Paul St. Paul
as a missionary he fearlessly confronts the “perils of waters, of robbers, in the city, in the wilderness.” [N.T.: II Cor. 11:26]
See : Bravery , Minnesota, and Flint, Michigan Flint is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and is located along the Flint River, 66 miles (106 km) northwest of Detroit. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 124,943, making it the fifth largest city in Michigan. It is the county seat of Genesee County6. , have never used their subpoena subpoena (səpē`nə) [Lat.,=under penalty], in law, an order to a witness to appear before a court. A subpoena ad testificandum [Lat. power to compel Compel - COMpute ParallEL officers to testify. Moreover, most oversight staff members agree that citizens should not have the power to discipline officers. They realize that giving citizens that authority could violate state laws, city charters, or collective bargaining agreements The contractual agreement between an employer and a Labor Union that governs wages, hours, and working conditions for employees and which can be enforced against both the employer and the union for failure to comply with its terms. with police unions. Also, such authority would detract from detract from
verb 1. lessen, reduce, diminish, lower, take away from, derogate, devaluate << OPPOSITE enhance
verb 2. holding the agency's administrator accountable for ensuring proper standards of professional conduct.
Lack of Understanding
Because they lack experience as law enforcement officers, oversight members may have difficulty fairly determining whether officers have engaged in misconduct. Citizens generally are not familiar with pertinent case law governing officer behavior nor do they understand the nature of police discretion, the methods employed to train officers, or the totality TOTALITY. The whole sum or quantity.
2. In making a tender, it is requisite that the totality of the sum due should be offered, together with the interest and costs. Vide Tender. of the circumstances of an incident that can influence officer behavior. Officers frequently observe that state medical boards, composed only of physicians, investigate doctors for malpractice malpractice, failure to provide professional services with the skill usually exhibited by responsible and careful members of the profession, resulting in injury, loss, or damage to the party contracting those services. , and only attorneys investigate lawyers for misconduct. Similarly, some police argue that only law enforcement officers have the knowledge to investigate and judge other sworn personnel.
However, many law enforcement administrators have worked with citizen review members to address these concerns and find ways of improving their relationships. For example, some agencies train oversight staff and volunteers. In Rochester, New York, candidates for the review board attend a condensed con·dense
v. con·densed, con·dens·ing, con·dens·es
1. To reduce the volume or compass of.
2. To make more concise; abridge or shorten.
a. version of a police academy run by the police department. The 48-hour course involves 3 hours per evening for 2 weeks and 2 all-day Saturday sessions. The members use a shoot/don't shoot simulator, practice handcuffing, and learn about department policies and procedures, including the use-of-force continuum. Other oversight systems require a department supervisor to attend hearings or be on call to answer questions about department policies and operations. Also, review systems that investigate citizen complaints often hire investigators with pertinent law enforcement expertise. Finally, many agencies have found that outsiders can sometimes do a more objective job than insiders in assessing the performance of member s of their own profession. Juries illustrate a frequent use of representatives of many different professions and life experiences to resolve allegations of police misconduct, physician and attorney malpractice, and other profession-specific cases in civil and criminal trials. 
While many law enforcement administrators and officers feel that the oversight process is unfair because outside reviewers are unfamiliar with police work, they have other objections to citizen oversight. For example, unjust criticism and lengthy delays represent two concerns that many officers have about the oversight process.
Many officers complain that oversight staff members hold them accountable for minor infractions, such as placing the wrong offense code on a citation or failing to record the end mileage on a vehicle transport. Also, some administrators feel that complainants take advantage of the complaint process to benefit a planned or ongoing civil suit against an officer or the community.
Through educating civilian review members about police work and informing officers of the benefits that review members can provide, administrators can reduce some of these concerns. In one case, when a citizen, whose complaint a review board did not sustain, filed a civil suit, the city attorney had the oversight investigator testify. This investigator's testimony helped have the suit dismissed.
Delays harm the credibility of the oversight process and cause officers considerable stress as they wait for their cases to be decided.  To reduce these delays, agencies first should avoid contributing to them by establishing their own time lines for each stage of the review process. Next, agencies should work with oversight bodies and local government officials to establish deadlines. For example, in Rochester, New York, the city council requires oversight members to review cases within 2 weeks after the police department has completed its investigation. To speed up the hearing process in Berkeley, California Berkeley is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in Northern California, in the United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington. , the review board decided to allow the director to recommend that the board summarily dismiss cases without merit.
Faced with concerns about the oversight process, law enforcement administrators have discovered that they can take steps that may short-circuit future tension and lead to a successful relationship with oversight members. First, administrators can initiate citizen oversight systems. For example, the chief of the St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Department decided to implement an oversight system to gain citizens' perspectives on the behavior of the department's officers. The seven-member commission meets monthly to review cases investigated and decided by the department. The members, including two police officers, make their own findings and, in sustained cases, recommend discipline to the chief who makes the final decision.
In addition, when local officials begin talking about setting up a citizen oversight system, administrators can become involved in the planning process. This allows administrators to try to ensure that the oversight system has realistic and precisely specified objectives. Without well-defined objectives, an oversight system can cause the involved parties to have different expectations for how the process should operate and what it should accomplish. For example, specific objectives could--
* reassure the public that the agency appropriately disciplines officers who engage in misconduct;
* provide the public with a "window" on how the agency investigates allegations of officer misconduct;
* defuse hostility expressed by residents or specific groups of citizens;
* reduce the number of police shootings; and
* establish mechanisms through which citizens can make recommendations for improving police policies, procedures, and training.
Finally, law enforcement administrators should demonstrate their willingness to work cooperatively with oversight members. Police supervisors and oversight staff should meet regularly to discuss any specific misconceptions Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It features Jane Leeves, formerly of Frasier, and French Stewart, formerly of 3rd Rock From the Sun. or conflicts and to share information. For example, when the Tucson, Arizona Tucson (pronounced /ˈtusɑn/, Spanish: Tucsón [tuk'son] , citizen oversight board found some of the police department's statistics difficult to understand, the chief and the board's chair met with the department's statistical personnel, who then developed a clearer presentation method.
Despite serious reservations about citizen oversight, many law enforcement administrators have identified several ways that such systems can benefit police agencies. These include bettering an agency's image with the community, enhancing an agency's ability to police itself, and, most important, improving an agency's policies and procedures.
The example at the beginning of this article illustrates how citizen oversight can improve a department's relationship and image with the community it serves. Particularly among skeptical citizens, the oversight process can help establish and maintain an agency's reputation for fairness and firmness in addressing allegations of police misconduct. Citizen oversight also can promote the goals of community policing by enhancing communication between police and citizens and obtaining the public's views about law enforcement activities.
Oversight systems can improve the quality of a department's internal investigations of alleged officer misconduct.  Some agencies report that officers perform more thorough investigations of such cases because they know that the oversight body--and, through it, the general public--will be examining how accurate and unbiased their reports are.
While no empirical evidence may show that oversight systems deter police misconduct,  citizen review may help in three ways to improve officer actions. First, by recommending additional training for errant er·rant
1. Roving, especially in search of adventure: knights errant.
2. Straying from the proper course or standards: errant youngsters.
3. officers, oversight bodies can encourage officers to learn how to avoid the behavior that led to citizen complaints. Next, oversight systems may discourage some officers from engaging in misconduct by reducing their chances for promotion. Finally, when law enforcement agencies adopt policy and procedure changes recommended by oversight bodies, officers gain a better understanding of how they should perform their duties.
Policies and Procedures
Many law enforcement administrators and oversight staff feel that providing suggestions for agency policy and procedure changes represents the greatest benefit of oversight systems. Policy recommendations, including suggestions for training improvements, can influence entire departments not just individual officers' behavior.
While some police administrators believe that outsiders do not have the necessary understanding of police practices to make useful policy recommendations, others disagree. For example, some managers feel that this lack of expertise allows oversight members to ask questions that encourage officers to reevaluate long-standing practices and approach situations from a different perspective.
Citizen oversight bodies can provide two general types of recommendations for changing police operations. First, they can recommend changes in the way the department conducts its internal investigation into alleged misconduct. For example, because of investigative inconsistencies in Portland, Oregon, the oversight committee recommended that the police department's internal affairs unit handle all use-of-force complaints rather than sending them to the precincts pre·cinct
a. A subdivision or district of a city or town under the jurisdiction of or patrolled by a specific unit of its police force.
b. for investigation. The department agreed.
More often, oversight bodies offer recommendations intended to improve department policies governing officer behavior. For example, in the wake of riots in a local park that drew over 30 complaints from citizens alleging officer misconduct, the Berkeley, California, city council directed oversight members to prepare recommendations about crowd control at large demonstrations. As a result, the city's oversight commission recommended 12 specific changes, including obtaining and using better-amplified sound devices to address crowds and monitoring the audibility of dispersal dis·per·sal
The act or process of dispersing or the condition of being dispersed; distribution.
Noun 1. dispersal orders; providing clearer instructions about the location of the unlawful assembly unlawful assembly: see riot, rout, and unlawful assembly. site, the route that persons can use to leave the area, and the amount of time given to comply with the dispersal order; and training specific officers to serve as crowd liaisons at demonstrations. The department subsequently implemented all 12 of the oversight commission's recommendations.
By comparison, oversight systems may recommend changes to policies and procedures that prove more favorable to officers. For example, the internal affairs unit of the Orange County, Florida, Sheriffs Office recommended firing a deputy for violating the agency's pepper spray policy--excessive use of force. However, the citizen review board determined that the deputy, a recent hire from another department where deputies had carried ammonia capsules, had used the pepper spray only as a substitute to wake an unconscious suspect. The board concluded that the sheriffs office had a poor pepper spray policy because it required automatic termination for misuse regardless of mitigating circumstances Circumstances that may be considered by a court in determining culpability of a defendant or the extent of damages to be awarded to a plaintiff. Mitigating circumstances do not justify or excuse an offense but may reduce the severity of a charge. . As a result, the department rewrote its policy so that misuse of pepper spray would not require automatic termination and suspended, but did not terminate, the deputy.
Law enforcement administrators often find citizen oversight a burdensome, even contentious, procedure. In many jurisdictions, perpetual conflict has reigned between agencies and oversight members. In fact, some tension between the two may prove inevitable if the oversight system is functioning conscientiously. However, constant friction does not have to exist.
Ultimately, a good, or at least tolerable tol·er·a·ble
1. Capable of being tolerated; endurable.
2. Fairly good; passable. See Synonyms at average.
tol , working relationship depends on the personalities and commitment to fairness displayed by the oversight director and the law enforcement administrator. Both of these individuals must communicate openly and with a willingness to listen to the other's point of view. Indeed, if both sides make a sincere and sustained effort to work together, citizen oversight can help law enforcement administrators perform their jobs more effectively and with increased public support.
Mr. Finn is a senior research associate for a private firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts This article is about the city of Cambridge in Massachusetts. For the English university town, see Cambridge, England. For other places, see Cambridge (disambiguation).
Cambridge, Massachusetts is a city in the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts, United States. , and serves as a special officer with the Belmont, Massachusetts Belmont is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. The population was 24,194 at the 2000 census. History
Belmont was founded on March 18, 1859 by former citizens of, and land from, the bordering towns of Watertown (to the south), Waltham (to the , Police Department.
(1.) Andrew Thomas Several people share the name Andrew Thomas:
(2.) The author based this article on information he collected as part of a report prepared for the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Contract OJP-94-C-007.
(3.) Maxy Dunlap, director of the San Francisco, California “San Francisco” redirects here. For other uses, see San Francisco (disambiguation).
The City and County of San Francisco (EN IPA: [sænfrənˈsɪskoʊ] , Office of Citizen Complaints, interview by author, 1999.
(4.) Jerry Sanders Jerry Sanders may refer to:
San Diego is a coastal Southern California city located in the southwestern corner of the continental United States. As of 2006, the city has a population of 1,256,951. , Police Department, interview by author, 1999.
(5.) Charles Moose Moose, river, Canada
Moose, river, c.50 mi (80 km) long, formed in central Ont., Canada, by the Mattagami and Missinaibi rivers. It flows NE to its confluence with the Abitibi River and into SW James Bay near Moosonee. , former chief of the Portland, Oregon, Police Bureau, and Captain Melvin Sears of the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff's Office and administrative coordinator of the Orange County Citizen Review Board, interview by author, 1999.
(6.) The oversight process may lack certain qualities thought necessary to deter misconduct: certainty, severity, and swiftness of punishment. Michele Sviridoff and Jerome E. McElroy, Processing Complaints Against Police: The [New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. ] Civilian Complaint Review Board The Civilian Complaint Review Board is an all-civilian board tasked with investigating civil complaints about alleged misconduct on the part of the New York Police Department. (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Vera Institute of Justice The Vera Institute of Justice is a non-governmental criminal justice research and policy organization, based in New York City. The Vera Institute of Justice was founded in 1961, by philanthropist Louis Schweitzer and Herb Sturz. , 1998), 35.