Contact: Brian Buchner, President, NACOLE
April 12, 2015 – Last week the nation witnessed the tragic shooting death of Walter Scott by a North Charleston, South Carolina police officer. Shortly after the Mayor and Chief of Police watched a bystander’s video of the shooting, the involved officer, Michael Slager, was fired, arrested, and charged with murder. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers are to be commended for their swift and decisive action. As we witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri, a single officer-involved shooting has the potential to shake the public’s confidence in the police, not only in the community where the incident occurred, but also throughout communities across the country.
Following the shooting death of Walter Scott, National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) President Brian Buchner sent correspondence to officials in North Charleston urging them to consider establishing civilian oversight of its police force. As with other recent incidents, NACOLE also offered its support and expertise to assist North Charleston as it works to rebuild the essential relationship between the North Charleston Police Department and the community it serves.
There is no denying that another police killing of an unarmed black man – this one on video for the nation to see – brings into sharp focus the need for greater scrutiny of police conduct, training, policies, and technology and meaningful strategies to address the tenuous relationship between police and the black community. In part that begins by acknowledging some hard truths: 1) black people in this country have different experiences with police, and those experiences are valid; 2) police departments are not immune to bad apples or broken systems that contribute to a lack of accountability; and 3) there is a real need for independent oversight of the police, in North Charleston and across the nation. The recent report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing made recommendations in each of these areas.
The intersection of race and policing is central to the history of civilian oversight, as well as to NACOLE. Race and issues of fairness, equality, justice, and trust in law enforcement have had a prominent role in much of our work over the last 50 years. Thus, the oversight community – and NACOLE specifically – recognizes that we have an important role to play and an obligation to identify and address discriminatory practices by the police.
Time and again, cities everywhere have found themselves scrambling to establish civilian oversight in the wake of a crisis. This scenario is playing out with increasing frequency as cell phone video, websites like YouTube, and the 24-hour news cycle become even more ubiquitous than they already are. More and more, the public is demanding independent oversight to hold police departments and officers accountable. Experience has shown that oversight helps build legitimacy and public trust, through increased police transparency and responsiveness to the public served. Civilian oversight alone is not sufficient to gain legitimacy; without it, however, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the police to maintain the public’s trust.
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Members of NACOLE are invited to submit nominations for The NACOLE Flame Award and The NACOLE Achievement in Oversight / Contribution to Oversight Award. Nominations can be made by any NACOLE member and will be evaluated by an awards sub-committee of the NACOLE Training, Education, and Standards Committee. (Employees of agencies holding organizational memberships can submit nominations. If your agency has an organizational membership please disseminate this to your employees). June 1, 2015 is the deadline to submit nominations. Submissions must be made electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. Awards will be presented at NACOLE’s Twenty-first Annual Conference in Riverside, California, in October 2015.
- For additional details and to download the 2015 NACOLE Awards Procedures and 2015 NACOLE Awards Nomination Form, visit the NACOLE Awards section of our website.
- If you are not a current NACOLE member but want to submit a nomination, you can join NACOLE by completing the application found on the NACOLE Membership section of our website.
The 2015 NACOLE Scholarship Application process is now open. Apply today! The deadline is May 1, 2015.
Starting in 2013, NACOLE, through its Annual Conference Scholarship Fund, began offering financial support to individuals to attend the NACOLE Annual Conference, expanding the reach of civilian oversight and promoting participation by individuals from a broad spectrum of social, economic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. The Scholarship Fund supports and strengthens the work of civilian oversight practitioners and communities by providing access to a broad range of oversight information, best practices and professional networks. Scholarships will cover the cost of conference registration and up to $500 in travel-related expenses.
Submit applications to scholarship@NACOLE.org no later than May 1, 2015. You will receive a confirmation of receipt. If you do not, please contact email@example.com or call 317-721-8133.