The Role of Citizen Oversight Groups in Law Enforcement




Foster, Garrett

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



Law enforcement agencies in America are employed by local governments to protect and serve the citizens within the communities. Over time, the trust between the communities and law enforcement agencies has become weak, and some believe it is due to a lack of transparency between police and the public (Finn, 2001), especially when a police officer is accused of wrong doing. There are many ways the law enforcement agencies and governments have tried to remedy this problem. One method that has been introduced is to include the public in the decision and disciplinary actions that the law enforcement agencies make in the form of a citizen oversight groups or review boards. Every law enforcement entity should consider implementing some form of civilian oversight review board for complaints against officer misconduct to help promote trust within its communities. A citizen oversight group allows citizens an insight into the agency, which not only shows transparency but also allows the citizens to better understand the job of the law enforcement officer. There are many different forms of the citizen oversight groups, and it is ultimately the agency or local government to choice which design works best for their needs. Although there is opposition by some to the implementation of citizen oversights groups with compelling arguments, the public trust and transparency that can be gained along with the positive arguments tend to outweigh the cons.


Police-community relations, Civilian Review Boards (Police administration), Police complaints against