American Police Officers Alliance is pleased to present the launch of the Police Oversight Board Facts project this month – PoliceOversightBoardFacts.com.
One does not have to go far to find headlines in cities across the country about an officer-involved shooting or incident. Recent news of officer-involved shootings, including those in Raleigh, NC, New Haven, CT, and Phoenix, AZ, often show one side of the story about the incident. These traditional media sources, however, fail to investigate or hold accountable the oversight boards that are responsible for disciplining police officers.
PoliceOversightBoardFacts.com will serve as a central online hub to inform people about civilian police oversight boards. The website will provide facts on how the current process of creating and implementing civilian police oversight boards is flawed and is ultimately the wrong policy prescription for holding police officers accountable. A CATO Institute survey found that 79 percent of Americans support outside agencies, consisting of law enforcement professionals, as a means of holding officers accountable for their actions. This key survey finding shows that there is broad public support for finding alternative methods for police officer discipline.
There are many great men and women that are honorably serving their police departments every day in a professional manner. There have been a few hand-picked cases that were magnified nationally by traditional media, creating a knee-jerk reaction calling for a new model to police oversight. PoliceOversightBoardFacts.com will showcase examples, like in New York where police commanders rejected 90 percent of the board’s findings in 2012. A true police oversight board should be for the discipline of the very small number of officers nationally who fail to meet the standards of conduct expected of them by the public.
Cities like Boulder, CO, Louisville, KY, and Little Rock, AR are examining some form of civilian police oversight to replace their current model of providing oversight and discipline of sworn officers. PoliceOversightBoardFacts.com also serves as a hub of information for elected officials and citizens at all levels to become better informed on both sides of the issue. We believe that a more informed public will lead to better decision making when it comes to the issue of officer oversight and discipline.
Citizens who visit PoliceOversightBoardFacts.com will be able to take action by contacting their elected officials to ensure that police officer oversight is based on evidence-based practices and not on emotion. Tennessee and Utah have recently enacted legislation that would limit the power and scope of civilian police oversight boards. The legislative measures in these two states are meant to ensure that discipline and oversight of officers is based more on facts and less on emotion. We hope more states will follow their lead.
Police Oversight Board Facts will be the great equalizer in the debate on proper oversight and discipline of police officers. We invite the public to educate themselves and take action to ensure safer communities nationwide.
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.