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Do DOJ Intervention and Citizen Oversight Improve Police Accountability

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Past Project Period End Date
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $292,979)

Statement of the Problem: Does civilian oversight of local police departments in jurisdictions that have experienced interventions by the Special Litigation Office of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice improve police accountability? Which types of civilian oversight are most effective? Determining best practices in civilian oversight is critical in reducing racial disparities in police conduct.
DOJ intervention often includes new and/or enhanced civilian oversight procedures. Data on the performance of CRBs, however, has not been compiled. To address the two research questions noted above, panel data will be compiled and hypotheses tested to address the research questions.
Research Design and Methods:
Constructing a database
All jurisdictions that have been under DOJ./CRD supervision since 1994 will be included in the database of approximately 400 year/jurisdiction observations. The data that will be gathered for each jurisdiction for each available year will include:
• the aggregate number and shares of types of civilian complaints and the aggregate number and share of types of allegations within complaints, as provided in all available annual reports of the CRBs;
• the number of recommendations made by the CRB related to such complaints and allegations to the Chief of Police (Chief);
• the disposition of complaints and allegations, in total and by category, made by the Chief;
• the general category of each CRBs using the Walker typology;
• additional characteristics of CRBs (such as EIS and auditing systems);
• a variable indicating whether the observation was pre- or post-DOJ intervention;
• additional variables including demographic and economic variables by jurisdiction and time, especially the racial distribution of populations.
Hypotheses are tested to determine whether DOJ interventions reduce civilian complaints and increase sustain rates. Additional hypotheses will be tested to assess which categories and characteristics of CRBs are the most effective in achieving reduced complaints and increased sustain rates. Hypotheses will be tested using OLS and PROBIT regression analysis and ANCOVA methods. The initial results will be shared with CRBs in the database for their reflection and evaluation to improve the interpretation of results.
Products, Reports, and Data Archiving:
• An interim report on the statistical findings;
• A final report integrating the statistical findings with interpretations and evaluation from CRBs; and
• The dataset with appropriate documentation will be provided to NIJ for archiving so that other researchers can use it for replication of the original findings or additional research. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 12, 2016