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Internal Accountability Mechanisms

The City Council hearing in Newark, presented by Jacoby and Bourg (2016) as a documentary episode, raises the issues of power abuse by police officers and the facts of unreasonable threats to the population. According to the speakers involved, the major problems concern the breadth of powers of the local law enforcement agency (Jacoby & Bourg, 2016). One of those present notes the facts of robbery and assault committed by police officers, and another speaker, who is also a resident of Newark, complains about cases of “retaliation after reporting police abuses” (Jacoby & Bourg, 2016). Much attention is paid to the issue of unconstitutional stops and arrests by race since the overwhelming majority of victims of police violence are African Americans and Latinos (Jacoby & Bourg, 2016). These issues are actively discussed, and the citizens of Newark call for measures to limit the arbitrariness of the law enforcement agencies. The city representatives state that police officers, instead of engaging in direct responsibilities, behave incompetently by showing unreasonable aggression.

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Solutions Offered to Transform the Police Department

To transform the police department in Newark and address the challenges discussed at the City Council hearing, some measures have been offered. From a civilian perspective, the oversight of the department has been proposed as a solution to increase police officers’ responsibility (Jacoby & Bourg, 2016). In addition, based on a general vote, an action group has been created, which has sufficient authority to assess the actions of the law enforcement agency and report any potential violations (Jacoby & Bourg, 2016). These solutions can be attributed to one of the points of internal accountability mechanisms when investigations are carried out on the basis of allegations. The initiatives from the Department of Justice aim to increase the focus on police officers’ better training, working on their job ethics, and introducing reporting technology, such as body cameras (Jacoby & Bourg, 2016). These measures can minimize the incidence of officer misconduct through the enhanced standards of punishment. At the same time, additional internal accountability mechanisms may be relevant solutions to the problem under consideration.

By engaging co-workers to increase accountability, some measures can be effective solutions to reduce officer misconduct and improve performance. In addition to civilian engagement, Walker (2007) mentions transforming agency policies to oversee the authority of officers, conducting regular professional appraisals, organizing oversight by first-line supervisors, and identifying productivity issues at an early stage. All these measures are significant and, based on the City Council hearing presented by Jacoby and Bourg (2016), relevant in the context of increasing police oversight to address the current gaps. According to Braga (2017), cases involving officer misconduct and how to resolve disputed aspects of police activities are often caused by the lack of collaborative partnerships between officers and civilians. For this reason, engaging city residents is an objective practice to “improve the transparency of law enforcement actions” and ensure more effective crime prevention activities that do not pose a threat to ordinary citizens (Braga, 2017, para. 5). Therefore, in the context of the prevailing disagreements, the involvement of civilians, as one of the internal accountability mechanisms, is a reasonable solution.

Personal View on Internal Accountability Mechanisms

If I had sufficient authority, I would resort to several internal accountability mechanisms to transform the way police officers interact with the public. In particular, I would emphasize body-worn cameras as essential tools to wear when patrolling the street at all times. I would also not give up on the supervision of first-line supervisors, but I would pay much more attention to engaging civilians to evaluate the actions of law enforcement agencies. Such measures are valuable, and the impacts of internal accountability mechanisms discussed can be significant. Regarding cameras, as Hyland (2018) remarks, contrary to existing privacy laws, the use of such devices contributes to the comprehensive recording of officers’ actions. In addition, as an impact, one can mention the quality of the evidence base, which is also a valuable implication. The involvement of civilians, in turn, has a positive effect on public confidence in the police. Citizens’ assessment of the actions of law enforcement agencies is an incentive for increased oversight and strict performance accountability as impacts.

In the process of transformation, I might encounter some problems related to internal accountability mechanisms, which require developing solutions to them. The reorganization of internal policies can be complicated by cross-cultural contradictions among individual officers. To address this issue, creating a multicultural environment, as proposed by Oliver (2017), is a viable solution to shape a diverse workplace and eliminate disagreements. Regular professional appraisals may be accompanied by officers’ unpreparedness for adverse situations, but this can be corrected by introducing special early intervention systems to predict and avoid mistakes (Helsby et al., 2018). Reporting violations, as an accountability mechanism, can cause officers’ unwillingness to accept the fact of supervision, which can be resolved by introducing a system of incentives for employees who admit and correct their flaws. First-line supervision may entail poor control due to close work relationships between colleagues, but, as Oliver (2017) remarks, implementing a feedback system may contribute to more objective assessments because this practice can be anonymous. Finally, identifying productivity at an early stage may be complicated by officers’ poor training, which can be resolved by providing them with qualified mentors for comprehensive physical and legal training.

References

Braga, A. A. (2017). The new policing, crime control, and harm reduction. NYU Furman Center. Web.

Helsby, J., Carton, S., Joseph, K., Mahmud, A., Park, Y., Navarrete, A., Ackermann, K., Walsh, J., Haynes, L., Cody, C., Patterson, M. E., & Ghani, R. (2018). Early intervention systems: Predicting adverse interactions between police and the public. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 29(2), 190-209. Web.

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Hyland, S. S. (2018). Body-worn cameras in law enforcement agencies, 2016. U.S. Department of Justice. Web.

Jacoby, J., & Bourg, A. (Producers). (2016). Policing the police [Television series episode]. Frontline. PBS. Web.

Oliver, P. (2017). Creating a multicultural law enforcement agency: An intentional priority. Police Chief. Web.

Walker, S. (2007). Police accountability: Current issues and research needs. National Institute of Justice. Web.

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