A Comprehensive Guide to Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement

Project Purpose/Goal:

The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), a not-for-profit organization, in partnership with the Police Foundation, is conducting a two year project to develop comprehensive guidance on civilian oversight of law enforcement. Specifically, the project includes a comprehensive overview of the current state of the field, detailed case studies of nine oversight models, a decision-making guide for conducting local needs assessments, and an interactive online toolkit. The goal of effective oversight is to increase trust between the community and law enforcement, enhance police legitimacy, and advance the goals of community policing.


Approach, Results and Implications:

The comprehensive overview is based largely on the results of NACOLE’s recently completed national survey of police oversight agencies. The objective of this survey was to capture and describe variation in the organizational structure, legal authority, and organizational practices of contemporary oversight; and therefore further mutual assurance between law enforcement officials and the community through the aforementioned goals. The case studies were developed from a series of site visits to a total of nine oversight agencies. Both the survey results and case studies formed the foundation of the decision-making guide and interactive online toolkit. The toolkit makes the best practices and local needs assessment guide more widely available and accessible to law enforcement, civilian oversight, and communities across the nation.


Funding & Collaboration:

This project was supported by the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center and the U.S. State Department.


Point of Contact:

Rob Davis
Chief Social Scientist
Police Foundation

Jim Burch
Vice President, Strategic Initiatives
Police Foundation



NACOLE, Civilian Oversight, Law Enforcement, comprehensive guide on civilian oversight, police oversight agencies, community policing

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