Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal


Kevin King


The recent killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have reignited the debate over curbing police misconduct. Due to United States Supreme Court jurisprudence and the quality of internal affairs investigations there continues to be a void in police oversight. Local governments are often reactive, instead of proactive, when implementing strategies for overseeing police misconduct. On several occasions civilian oversight boards have only formed in reaction to tragic death. When implemented effectively, civilian oversight boards can both help create just police practices and better the civilian complaint process. Unfortunately, some of these boards fail to develop into more than symbols of empty promises to the community. This can result from a lack of support, funding, and powers. Oversight boards must have some form of power to function properly; however, such power must coincide with existing local government law and account for police officer privacy concerns. This Note discusses the merits and drawbacks of various civilian oversight board models, and makes recommendations as to which should be adopted, both proactively and in the wake of recent tragedies.

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