American Police Officers Alliance launched PoliceOversightBoardFacts.com on May 21st. The website serves as the hub for the American Police Officers Alliance’s effort in highlighting what is correct and not correct in the practice of oversight and discipline of police officers. Since our launch on May 21st, we wanted to highlight why there is a need for a resource like ours.
Advocates of law enforcement for years have long lacked an ally and resource to take on campaigns against oversight boards. Nashville, TN saw its voters last November approved an amendment to the city’s charter to form a civilian oversight board. The American Police Officers Alliance was proud to assist the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police in their campaign to stop Amendment 1 on last November’s ballot. Despite American Police Officers Alliance’s best efforts, our board of directors felt that a long-term education project on civilian police oversight boards is the best solution to informing the public.
With PoliceOversightBoardFacts.com being launched, we are highlighting three recent efforts for civilian police oversight and why this resource is needed to provide both sides of the issue. Boulder, Colorado is looking to form a task force that would address public safety in the city. The proposed make-up of the board would have only have one representative from the Boulder Police Officers Association and require one other member to be recently incarcerated. What spurred the effort for a police oversight task force was over criticisms how the Boulder Police handled the Zayd Atkinson incident. Atkinson was cleaning up trash at his house when he was confronted by police claiming he was not a resident of his own home. The Boulder Police Department has put the officer in question on suspension with pay pending a further internal investigation.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on March 30th of a proposed five person civilian oversight board in Little Rock, Arkansas. Newly elected Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. made civilian police oversight an issue during his campaign for Mayor last year. Mayor Scott re-ignited his call for a civilian oversight board after 30 year Bradley Blackshire was fatally shot by a Little Rock police officer of February 22nd. According to the proposed draft for the oversight board three out of the five appointees would be appointed by the Mayor while one other appointee must be a representative of the Little Rock community.
Members of the Louisville Metro Council are calling for greater police oversight within Louisville, KY. Lawmakers in the City of Louisville are opposed to a practice done by the police department to do investigatory traffic stops in order to cut down on drug-related offenses in low-income neighborhoods. The Metro Council’s plan calls for expanding the power of Louisville’s Citizens Commission on Police Accountability or to create an Office of the Inspector General to investigate such misconduct. The measure is still pending in front of their common council.
We should take note that state legislators in Tennessee and Utah have recently enacted legislation that would limit the power and scope of civilian police oversight boards. The legislation in these two states is meant to ensure that discipline and oversight of officers is based on facts and less on emotion. Wer hope supporters of law enforcement in the states of Arkansas, Colorado, and Kentucky will use our call to action tool to demand their legislators to pass similar reforms like in Tennessee and Utah.
American Police Officers Alliance has outlined current oversight efforts and what solutions exist to ensure that police officer oversight and discipline is done on evidence-based practice and not on emotion.
Daniel Stuebs is the Executive Director of the American Police Officers Alliance, a national political organization dedicated to standing up for the interests of America’s police officers.