Civilian Oversight of Police Discretionary Authority Term Paper by scribbler

Civilian Oversight of Police Discretionary Authority
An evaluation of the discretionary authority exercised by personnel in the various fields of the criminal justice system.
# 152579 | 1,382 words | 3 sources | APA | 2013 | US
Published on Mar 21, 2013 in Criminology (Public and Crime)

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This paper explores the role a civilian oversight committee has in ensuring authoritative powers are not abused when it comes to acts of discretion. This paper provides a critique of the values and ramifications of such an oversight committee and includes an assessment of the various factors affecting the attitudes of criminal justice personnel towards the public that would affect the use of discretion. The paper shows how there are many considerations in choosing a citizen oversight review committee or agency model and it is critically important that the choice be accurate in order that the review committee be effective and perform satisfactorily.

Civilian Oversight Committee
Conflicts of Interest Among Constituencies
Role of the Civilian Oversight Committee
Methods of Effective Oversight
Importance of Building Trust in Community and Methods for Building Trust
Four Types of Citizen Review Boards
Four Design Issues

From the Paper:

"Those on the outside of the criminal justice system and specifically in this case the civilian oversight committee may often "identify unproductive or outmoded practices and initiative change more readily that those immersed and invested in the current system." (Wechter, 2004) Furthermore, civilian oversight committee investigators stand to lose less due to their having challenged values and mores that are long-standing in nature. (Wechter, 2004, paraphrased) There is more to be accomplished by an efficient citizen oversight committee than to simply identify one incident of misconduct as this committee should examine the roots causes of behavior that is inappropriate and should have as its focus the prevention of the recurrence of such incidents. According to Wechter (2004) "Focusing only on individual acts makes police officers scapegoats for problems that are really the responsibility of high ranking managers."
"The citizen oversight committee that holds a true commitment to fulfilling its role looks further than the misconduct itself on toward the cause whether that be institutional, legal or cultural dynamics that serve to provide legitimacy or reinforcement to such acts of misconduct. In addition, the committee is not satisfied with the "what, when, where and how" but instead makes a demand of gaining an understanding of precisely why the misconduct has occurred and questions the appropriateness and value of the misconduct not only for the present but in terms of the future as well. This committee seeks to understand how such misconduct can be changed and what can be done to bring about that change most effectively."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Police Accountability and Citizen Review (2000) The International Association of Chiefs of Police. 2000 Nov. Online available at:
  • Stone, Christopher and Bobb, Merrick (2002) Civilian Oversight of the Police in Democratic Societies. Global Meetings on Civilian Oversight of Police. Los Angeles, CA, May 5-8, 2002. Online available at:
  • Wechter, Jayson (2004) Investigation Citizen Complaints is Different: The Special Challenges of Investigating Citizen Complaints Against Police Officers. San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints. A Report by the Police Professionalism Initiative of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Sept 2004. Online available at:

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Civilian Oversight of Police Discretionary Authority (2013, March 21) Retrieved January 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Civilian Oversight of Police Discretionary Authority" 21 March 2013. Web. 17 January. 2021. <>