Document Type


Publication Date



Once controversial, the idea that citizens should participate in the administrative review of complaints about police conduct is today widely accepted. Citizen review processes of one type or another can be found in about eighty percent of our largest cities. There are approximately 100 separate oversight agencies in this country and that number has been growing steadily for some time. Even as citizen review has become an accepted feature of the landscape in American policing, however, questions have been raised about just what citizen participation in complaint review is likely to achieve in terms of improving police and the relations between police and communities. "[T]here is a serious lack of research on the activities and effectiveness of oversight agencies," wrote Samuel Walker, the most consistent academic observer of citizen review mechanisms, in 2001. "The spread of citizen review," he noted a few years earlier, "has not brought complete joy [to the people who advocated for it.] In fact, there is a pervasive uneasy feeling that citizen review is not the panacea many expected it to be."


Law | Law Enforcement and Corrections