Concerned citizens in communities across the country have formed, in cooperation with their local government citizen review boards (CRBs). CRBs are empowered to assure the public that complaints to the police department regarding possible police misconduct are fairly and thoroughly investigated.
The recent civil uprising in Coquille regards complaints of selective enforcement, class and racial profiling, malfeasance and misfeasance, not merely grievances surrounding traffic violations. Some complaints of misfeasance (doing a lawful job but doing it poorly) and malfeasance (an act that is legally unjustified) involve juveniles. Errors in judgment by law enforcement can be a terrible experience for any citizen to deal with and especially so for children.
Victims of crimes that have seen their cases mishandled can feel doubly violated. Submitting complaints that are ignored or not impartially evaluated add insult to injury and is a betrayal of the public trust.
CRBs, depending upon their organizational structure and duties, may act as an advocate or liaison between crime victims and the police department. Some CRBs are empowered to issues subpoenas, question witnesses and recommend appropriate discipline or additional training.
CRBs often act as watchdog agencies to ensure that city management does not allow personal relationships to interfere with fair and impartial investigations. Additionally, they may recommend policies to ensure fair and humane policing that protect both the citizen and the police officer.
Improved relations between citizens and the local police department benefit everyone. Citizen review boards are one way communities in every state in the nation have worked out to deal with the very issues confronting Coquille today. They all owe their genesis to the efforts of concerned citizens working together.