Citizen Oversight of Police

The current movement to create citizen oversight of the police began in the 1970s, with citizen oversight in some form established in 80 percent of the country’s 50 largest cities and in more than 100 municipalities.  Efforts to create external or citizen oversight of the police have traditionally been fueled by public concerns that exclusively internal mechanisms to investigate and track police misconduct have not always resulted in unbiased, thorough, and timely investigations of citizen complaints of police misconduct.  Proponents of enhanced civilian oversight believe that, even where internal processes have been adequate, police agencies benefit by the increasing scrutiny and transparency citizen oversight provides.


Merrick Bobb, “Civilian Oversight of the Police in the United States,” Saint Louis University Public Law Review, Volume 22, Number 1, 2003.

Merrick Bobb, “Internal and External Oversight in the U.S.,” PARC issues paper, October 2005.

Peter Finn, “Citizen Review of Police:  Approaches and Implementation,” National Institute of Justice, March 2001.

Douglas W. Perez, Common Sense About Police Review. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press), 1994.

Police Assessment Resource Center, “Review of National Police Oversight Models for the Eugene Police Commission,” February 2005.

Debra Livingston, “The Unfulfilled Promise of Citizen Review,” Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 2004, Volume 1, No. 2: 653-669.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “Revisiting ‘Who is Guarding the Guardians?’” November 2000.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Who is Guarding the Guardians? A Report on Police Practices, 1981.

Vera Institute of Justice, “Building Public Confidence in Police through Civilian Oversight, September 2002.

Samuel Walker, The New World of Police Accountability, Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, 2005.

Samuel Walker, Police Accountability: The Role of Citizen Oversight, Belmont: Wadsworth Professionalism in Policing Series, 2001.

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Police Assessment Resource Center
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