George Floyd. Mike Brown. Oscar Grant. Philando Castille. Eric Garner. Stephen Clarke. Freddie Gray. The extreme police brutality in the U.S. has created a distrust and disconnect between police departments and people of color.
Now more than ever, the corrupt nature of police departments is being exposed. Fed up citizens have gone to protests, only to be met with excessive force in situations where force is not necessary.
A start in mending these relationships and ensuring police officers are held accountable is to create a police oversight board.
Indiana University Police Department needs a police accountability board in order to best serve students on campus. This will increase transparency with the public and help foster positive relationships between officers, students and faculty members.
Police officers must be held responsible for protecting citizens, and there shouldn't have to be days of protests and rioting for basic justice to be served. There is a stark, understandable disconnect between the black community and police officers. Change starts locally, and this police accountability board can aid in creating a precedent nationwide.
A 2016 study by Pew Research study found that only 14% of blacks have a lot of confidence in their local police.
The 2017-2018 Indiana University Diversity Report found that IU-Bloomington’s student body is 6% black. Black people are a minority at Indiana University and often experience both overt and covert discrimination.
A police accountability board is a right of the community and will foster constructive relationships between IUPD and students, but specifically students of color on campus.
According to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, these boards improve a department’s internal investigations of misconduct. It increases transparency in police departments and gives the community a larger voice in how the department functions. They can help reduce public concern for incidents within the department and validate community members.
It also serves as a way for public officials to show they care about the quality and transparency within their police force.
Various cities around the country have police accountability boards that serve as a way to ensure police officers are protecting and serving the community in equitable ways. Concerns are reviewed externally, which helps to hold police departments accountable for officers’ actions.
Some colleges have already implemented similar programs. In 2014, University of California at Davis created a police accountability program to “develop and promote accountability, trust, and communication between the campus community and the UC Davis Police Department.” The board includes students, staff and faculty.
IU-Bloomington’s board should consist of students, faculty and staff as well. To ensure diversity of thought, there must be quotas so all races and ethnicities have representation.
Student representatives from centers around campus should be on the board, such as Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, La Casa Latino Cultural Center, LGBTQ+ Culture Center, First Nations Educational and Cultural Center and the Asian Culture Center. People should be able to file complaints in areas such as harassment, excessive force, discrimination and improper force.
IU students and faculty deserve transparency. This is a realistic and important first step. Sign the petition if you agree.
Jaclyn Ferguson (she/her) is a rising junior studying journalism and African American studies. She is the secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists at IU.