Study finds police departments limit civilian oversight | Chicago News


Today marks two years since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Floyd was arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill when officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck while Floyd was handcuffed, face down.

His death sparked nationwide protests and calls for civilian oversight of law enforcement.

Sharon Fairley is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. In his latest book “Survey Says: The Development of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement Skyrockets in the Wake of George Floyd’s Killing,” Fairley surveyed new civilian police oversight entities in 100 of the largest cities in the United States.

“We’ve seen cities large and small create and also strengthen civilian oversight powers,” Fairley said. She says many city governments across the country are creating these entities to play a role in implementing new practices, not just to make recommendations.

Chicago is one of the few cities in the country to have multiple entities to oversee the police department. “It’s a very thoughtful approach because they’ve determined that simply using some form of surveillance may not be effective enough to drive the systemic change they want to see happen,” Fairley said.

Fairley points out that for these agencies to be effective, they need to be given the resources to do the job. “Many of these agencies have not been provided with the resources to actually carry out the missions given to them and, for example, they will develop case backlogs, which will lead to disappointment on the part of the community. Fairley says it’s been a challenge for cities across the country, not just Chicago.

Fairley’s study is set to be published in The Southern California Review of Law & Social Justice.


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