The Benefit of Independent Citizen Review in Police Critical Incidents




Fulbright, Donald W.

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



It is important that there is a bond of trust between members of the law enforcement community and the citizens that they serve. Many years of academic research have shown that the public is much more likely to legitimize police outcomes if they believe the police have the authority to enforce the law (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015). One way in which many communities have been working to establish trust is to allow community members to review issues commonly only investigated by police departments themselves including officer involved shootings, in-custody deaths, police misconduct, and alleged criminal and civil infractions committed by members of the police department. This concept is commonly known as a citizen review board and allows for members of the community to have a voice in the completion of the investigation. Citizen review boards can allow the community to play a role in the investigative process and further strengthen times with the community. They allow citizens to participate in shaping police policies and the ways in which a department operates. This paper seeks to examine the benefits of citizen review boards and their ability to work collaboratively with the community to help build trust, curb police misconduct, ensure fair and impartial investigations, and increase morale (Sen, 2010). The review of reference material attempts to show that the use of citizen review boards will lead to more transparency by showing that agencies are trustworthy and truly have the best interest of the community at their core (Ashton Jr., 2013).


Police--Complaints Against, Police--Community Relations, Civilian Review Boards (Police Administration)