In light of the heightened national attention on police use of force, many municipalities are trying to identify changes that can be made to police oversight to address community concerns. One such option is the formation of Community Oversight Boards.
Citizen Advisory Initiatives, such as investigatory boards, enable local governments to provide residents a means with which to independently participate in and make recommendations regarding law enforcement practice and procedure. Panels are often responsible for making recommendations regarding complaints about police conduct, though the community boards do not have authority to impose discipline. Municipalities also may grant such panels authority to review and provide non-binding input regarding policies and procedures. The boards afford municipalities an additional forum for community involvement and buy-in.
There are numerous legal issues regarding the formation and implementation of these board and the scope of their authority. Municipalities that are interested in exploring the creation of a board must carefully assess these issues, including the limitations imposed by the Florida Police Officers’ Bill of Rights contained in Chapter 112, Florida Statutes. For example, in D’Agastino v. City of Miami, 220 So. 3d 410 (Fla. 2017), the Florida Supreme Court held that the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights did not preempt the City from creating its Citizen Investigation Panel because that panel was carefully formed to avoid impinging responsibilities delegated exclusively to law enforcement agencies.
If your agency is interested in exploring the creation of a Community Oversight Board or you have any questions related thereto, please feel free to reach out to us to discuss.