b. Improved Police Management
Prior to 1982, San Francisco had a system similar to Portland's in which civilians who said they had been mistreated by the police had to take their complaints to the police. Then, San Francisco created its Office of Citizen Complaints, allowing police managers to hear from civilians who were previously unable or unwilling to share their concerns with the police department. In fact, the number of people coming forward with complaints about police behavior doubled.
Police managers cannot accurately assess the performance of their officers if they do not receive adequate feedback from the community. Many times, civilians are intimidated by the requirement that they speak to a police officer about their complaint. Further, in the Portland City Auditor's sample of 15 IID interviews, one out of three complaints was discouraged, misdirected, or not taken serioulsy.8
Where there is no independent review process, police managers cannot be sure to what extent problems exist within the bureau. Independent review allows managers to identify particular officers who are misbehaving or policies which are not having the desired effect.
An effective system of police review also improves police management by providing advice about police policy and training. There was an alarming rise in police shootings in Portland during 1992 (see graph). Public hearings in response to these shootings, as well as other trends in use of force, might reveal patterns within the department. Such studies could lead to suggestions for improvements in policy and training. Or such hearings might reveal that no such pattern exists, renewing community trust in the police.
Previous page Next
Table of Contents
Proposal for an Effective Review Board page 1
Return to Copwatch home page