There have been several cases of police misconduct that involve racial profiling, police brutality, tampering with witnesses, usage of excess force, coercive interrogation and corruption. These activities have a negative impact on the performance of the criminal justice system. The actions have led to false imprisonment of innocent people, physical and mental injuries, and even death in some instances. Other activities include destroying individuals’ property unlawfully, laundering money, stealing drugs, and filing false reports. These activities majorly affect public trust regarding the performance of the criminal justice system.
Having police oversight is crucial in preventing the police from misusing their authorities, thereby promoting civil rights of people, public confidence, and the enhancement of the legitimacy of the police force.
Police brutality has been the most trending, and the most recent case is the murder of George Floyd by the police. The outcome resulted in riots worldwide as many people exposed their thoughts regarding the performance of the criminal justice system. This portrayed that the public has significantly lost trust in the performance of the police service (Caruana 265). Many believed that people of color have no right to receive justice as it has become something that belongs to a particular group of people. However, the problem of police incompetence has not been experienced in the United States Only. There are many places where police misconduct has become a trend.
Police misconduct has been mainly affecting people of color as it has been manifesting through racial profiling. The blacks have been the victims of police brutality, which raises numerous questions regarding the accountability of the criminal justice system. For example, in the United States of America, the chance of a black person being mistreated and be killed by the police force is 1 out of 1000 (Caruana 267). This has brought the need for having police oversight to prevent misconduct and prevail justice for every person.
To ensure accountability is effective in the criminal justice system, several actors have to be involved with multiple roles so that the police can operate following the public interests. The actors have specific roles that they oversee so that the police morals and values are significantly maintained. Having independent bodies is essential in guaranteeing the performance of the police system. Independent bodies include human rights commissions and non-governmental organizations not part of the police service system (Porter 172). Furthermore, certain countries use special bodies within the police system, such as the independent police complaint section, police service commission, and police boards. Fighting corruption and misconduct within the police system requires that the selected body must operate independently.
The independent body requires complete discretion when performing its activities and exercises. It is mandatory that the body be free from control by political parties and free from control by the ministers. After completing any report, the body should submit the report and provide accountability of its activities to the parliament. Another factor that needs to be considered when setting up a police oversight is the formulation of the body through statutory underpinning (Porter 175).
Police oversight bodies that fall within the operation of the police act tend to have problems with the public as many people find it difficult to trust an independent organization within the police section. When setting up the oversight body, the committee members must undergo a transparent selection process based on excellence and qualifications rather than political. These factors are significant in ensuring that the oversight body has necessary personnel free from political influence or any other affiliations when performing their duties.
Many people mistreated by the police have been having trouble lodging complaints regarding their misconduct. Many people fear lodging the complaint because of threats posed by the police and their accomplices. It is essential to consider the way of handling public complaints when dealing with police oversight (Caruana 256). Complaints provide the necessary information required by the independent bodies to identify and provide suitable guidance regarding the prevention of police misconduct. Evaluating complaints is essential in creating policies and procedures that help the police oversight team handle the recurring problems.
Police oversight is crucial in preventing the progression of injustice which may lead to death. Consideration of complaints against police misconduct is very vital. For example, in the Minneapolis police department, officer Derek Chauvin faced a minimum of 17 misconduct complaints for two decades. None of the complaints was considered significant in punishing the police through revocation of the license. At one point, Officer Chauvin was involved in a tussle, which resulted in the firing of two shots that led to the wounding of the victim. The officer was reprimanded with letters that appeared to be a warning and not punishment.
Members of the public were not satisfied with how the case was handled, and it seemed that the criminal justice system favored the police. However, Mr Chauvin continued with his brutality, and on 25th May 2020, officer Chauvin was seen pinning George Floyd on his neck for almost nine minutes which led to the death of George Floyd. This case portrays that despite Officer Chauvin’s long history of misconduct, the complaints were never taken seriously as the murder of George Floyd could have been prevented by the criminal justice system or other independent bodies.
The oversight bodies can implement various models, which will help deal with public police misconduct. Firstly, investigative and quality assurance models are significant in ensuring that thorough investigations are conducted regarding the public allegations of police misconduct. This model focuses on special complaints, especially the most serious complaints, such as police brutality (Caruana 258). Secondly, review and appellate model; this model focuses on overseeing the analysis of the complaint. The body given this role conducts an investigation and determines whether the case was handled fairly and competently (Porter 178).
It asses the satisfaction of the public members and provides further insights into the case whenever a problem is identified. Thirdly, the evaluative and performance-based model identifies police misconduct patterns, practices, and system failures (Porter 179). This model only deals with a problem that is within the police system. Lastly, the mixed models make use of a combination of the above models. Additionally, it is important to consider external oversight teams when handling police misconduct cases. This includes professionals such as social workers, medical officers, and engineers. These groups help in identifying problems of police misconduct as they operate unnoticed.
In conclusion, police misconduct is a trend in many parts of the world. The outcome of police misconduct limits the performance of the criminal justice system and lowers the public trust regarding justice. Police injustices such as killing George Floyd by officer Chauvin significantly undermine the criminal justice system’s role in ensuring justice prevails. The criminal justice system needs to set up a method to maintain police behavior and code of conduct. One of the methods is the creation of police oversight bodies whose role is maintaining police ethics. The body should be independent to ensure that it is free from any political or organizational influence.
The police oversight body has to follow up on the complaints lodged by the public to prevent future problems. Various models are useful in ensuring police oversight. These models include investigative and quality assurance models, review and appellate models, evaluative and performance-based models, and mixed models. Furthermore, it is crucial to engage other external bodies when handling police misconduct.
Caruana, Mireille M. “The Reform of The EU Data Protection Framework in The Context of The Police and Criminal Justice Sector: Harmonisation, Scope, Oversight and Enforcement”. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, vol 33, no. 3, 2017, pp. 249-270. Informa UK Limited. Web.
Porter, Louise E. “Beyond ‘Oversight’: A Problem-Oriented Approach to Police Reform”. Police Practice and Research, vol 14, no. 2, 2013, pp. 169-181. Informa UK Limited. Web.