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NCJ Number: 188273 Find in a Library
Title: Race, Democracy and Law: Civilian Review of Police in Washington, DC (From Civilian Oversight of Policing: Governance, Democracy and Human Rights, P 41-61, 2000, Andrew Goldsmith and Colleen Lewis, eds. -- See NCJ-188271)
Author(s): Cheryl Beattie; Ronald Weitzer
Date Published: 2000
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: Hart Publishing Co, Inc
New York, NY 10003
Sale Source: Hart Publishing Co, Inc
719 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Book (Hardbound)
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This case study examined the history of civilian review of police in Washington, DC; the creation and operation of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) during 1982-95; the reasons for its abolition; and the implications regarding civilian oversight of police.
Abstract: Information sources included newspapers and archival documents regarding the history of civilian review, together with official reports, observations of hearings, and interviews with board members, investigators, and police representatives regarding the 1982-95 period. Results revealed that concerns about racism and police brutality in the racially segregated and white-dominated city led to the establishment in 1948 of the Complaint Review Board. However, the Board had little power or status. Members resigned in 1973. Issues of group conflict clearly drove the history of this review board. Racial conflict was less evident in the history of the CCRB. A largely black government founded the CCRB to watch over a police agency that was nearly majority black in composition and that offered little opposition to the board’s creation. The police union certainly disliked the CCRB and did nothing to assist it. However, the CCRB design had the unintended consequence of placing CCRB actors in a position where they had to struggle with inherent tensions between formal law and democracy. The CCRB failed within the context of this structural problem because it was chronically unable to handle a large and growing caseload and because city officials came to regard the overworked board as cost-ineffective in the context of the city’s dire financial straits in the mid-1990’s. However, in 1998 the city counsel enacted legislation that created an Office of Citizen Complaint Review that consisted of volunteer citizens. The analysis concluded that conflicts among groups and fundamental tensions between democracy and law shaped civilian review. Footnotes, lists of government documents and newspapers, and 32 references
Main Term(s): Complaints against police
Index Term(s): Abuse of authority; Civilian Review Boards; Community control of police; District of Columbia; Police internal affairs; Police misconduct; Police reform; Police reprimands; Police-minority relations; Political offender nonextradition; Racial discrimination
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