Police misconduct has become a public concern across the nation in recent years, and research shows that citizen complaints have been increasing. The Civilian Complainant Review Board in New York City reported that between 1992 and 1996 there was an increase in annual citizen complaints of more than 60% and that 53% of citizen complaints in 1996 were filed by African Americans. The Bureau of Justice Statistics also reported that “large state and local law enforcement agencies-those with 100 or more sworn officers-received more than 26,000 citizen complaints about officers use of excessive force during 2002” and that “this total figure resulted in overall rates of 33 complaints per agency and 6.6 complaints per 100 full-time sworn officers“. Police policies, practices and procedures for handling citizen complaints are important because they help the police maintain citizens' trust and build partnerships with communities. Like the citizen complaints themselves, policies hold the police accountable for their actions prevent and reduce future incidents of police misconduct and abuse of citizens and control police power and behaviors.
There are a number of reasons why citizens file complaints against police officers. The most common found appear to be complaints relating to patrol incidents, physical and verbal abuse, and excessive use of force, demeanor, performance, and improper conduct. A more recent complaint, racial profiling, has also emerged. Complaints, however, are defined differently among agencies. For example, indicating that excessive use of force is “any allegation by a citizen regarding unnecessary and unwarranted physical force by sworn officers“.
Over the last 10 years, significant events have brought the issue of racial profiling by law enforcement to nationwide public attention. Although evidence from internal documentation (on police training protocols and operating procedures) have been used, along with corroborating...