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Police Transparency a Must


If you think of police as part of the community, you realize that there is a social contract that requires trust of law enforcement among community members. How is such trust achieved?  Many experts believe the key is in transparency.

Practical Implications 

More than four in ten Americans report a declining perception of police and other law enforcement agencies due to a lack of transparency, suggesting that agencies need to shine more light on policies and procedures, while giving the public greater access to data and decisions made by top officials. That includes incorporating some basic policies designed to build visibility into the world of law enforcement:

  • Making policies, organizational charts, annual reports, and other data available online for public consumption whenever possible.
  • Creating mechanisms for police accountability that make sense to the public. If the public views particular procedures as unnecessarily violent or aggressive, but the police stand by it, there needs to be an explanation for the procedures and when or why they are used.  If particular officers seem to lack compassion or neglect to treat members of the public with basic human dignity, they should be held accountable for that.
  • Publicizing all use-of-force incidents, including the type of force and reason it was used, the officers involved, and relevant demographic information.
  • Reviews of sentinel events that involve complicated issues and result in negative outcomes that could be prevented in similar situations down the road.
  • Implementing civilian review boards that work with law enforcement to provide oversight and accountability, and updates to the public.
  • Using modern technology to track and report crime, officer response, personnel issues and so forth.

Benefits to the Community/Police Relationship 

How can transparency improve community perceptions of police?  When you think about it, the majority of information the general public has about police actions come from news stories.  Many of those stories in recent years have exposed officers as brutal and cruel enforcers who seem to take pleasure in their aggression. Are those isolated incidents or common practice? Transparency and accountability can answer the questions the public has about such incidents and, if effectively handled, can boost community confidence in police.  When there is a wall of secrecy around police agencies, the public will assume the worst. That’s why it makes no sense that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police have given up on providing a report on police internal investigations after just one year, citing the fact that it does not align with their business needs.

When legitimate problems are discussed openly, the opportunity for remediation of policy is much more likely, satisfying the public demand for better outcomes when police deal with mental health issues, racial disparities, juvenile offenders, and other items on the public’s mind.

Improvement is Possible 

There is good and bad in every organization, but it’s clear that sweeping mistakes under the rug is no recipe for improvement.  At Lobo Law, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys advocate for transparency in law enforcement.  If you’ve had a run-in with the law, contact our office for a confidential consultation today.

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