When a Fort Worth police officer killed 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in her home last week, it brought to light a startling fact: the city is the largest in Texas without a citizen oversight panel.
Citizen review boards typically vet complaints against police departments and review police practices.
According to Phillip Goff, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, such a board can help build community trust with local police because it gives local residents a say in how the police operate.
“If the people feel as they are being occupied – as opposed to feeling as if they are being represented – then people are less likely to be compliant with law enforcement and even less likely to be in compliance with the law,” Goff says.
Goff praised Fort Worth’s police department for working hard to build trust, even without a citizen board, in recent years. He also pointed to how quickly the department responded to the public.
Within a day of her shooting on Oct. 12, the Fort Worth Police Department released the body camera video of the incident. Within 48 hours, the officer resigned before being fired.
“That’s basically reading from the golden book of best practices,” he says.
What you’ll hear in this segment:
-How citizen review boards operate
-Why a citizen review board could make it harder for a police chief to act more quickly after a shooting
Written by Terri Langford.