government officials establish pilot civilian review board in anaheim, california

Almost two years after residents took to the streets in protest regarding the fatal police shootings of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo, government officials in Anaheim, California have established a pilot civilian review board to monitor the city’s police department. Civilian oversight of law enforcement has been in existence in a variety of forms across the U.S. for more than 50 years. According to a New York Times piece by Oakland police misconduct attorney John Burris,

After 25 years of taking police officers to court for misconduct and after reviewing countless internal affairs’ complaints and related investigations, I have concluded there is little evidence that the public should rely on the integrity of the police department to police itself.

The Anaheim review board will not have access to police personnel files, unfortunately, and will not have subpoena or investigative powers. Subpoena power means the ability to require witnesses to provide testimony. For even a modicum of reliability, a review board must have the ability to interview all witnesses, including officers, and have access to all evidence needed to complete investigations.