The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Nathan Witkin


Citizen review boards (CRBs) tend to act as unofficial criminal courts for police misconduct. Without the binding, legal powers of the court, these civilian oversight bodies are often ineffective and draw resistance from law enforcement. “Community policing,” or community-oriented policing (COP) is a law enforcement strategy that emphasizes the use of problem-solving skills through community engagement and partnerships, but performance through arrests/citation statistics only. Without a process to evaluate public relations skills, the COP strategy encourages officers to reduce distance between them and the community while retaining a crime-fighting focus—a dynamic that increases tension and violence between police and crime-prone neighborhoods. If civil oversight organizations were to review both positive and negative instances of police conduct, and law enforcement were to use this input to evaluate individual officers, then the review board would be able to promote community-friendly officers over problematic ones, thereby deterring police misconduct. This proposal presents an optimal use of civilian oversight and a partnership that would improve the effectiveness of both the CRB, and the COP strategy currently utilized by the police.

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The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice

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St. Mary's University School of Law



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