Public Reporting and Transparency

An independent entity bringing transparency to a historically opaque process is a fundamental goal and component of civilian oversight. Civilian oversight provides a unique opportunity for the public to learn about misconduct complaints and other areas of the law enforcement agency that serves the community. As such, issuing regular public reports is critical to an agency’s credibility. A civilian oversight agency should, at a minimum, issue one written report to the public each year.Reports should be written in an accessible manner that allows the public to clearly understand the agency’s authority, purpose, procedures, and accomplishments. In addition, they should include as much information related to the agency’s mandate and operations as can be disclosed by law, including patterns and trends in complaints or discipline, the agency’s recommendations and activities for the year, and issues that may be of concern to the public.  Sufficiently resourced oversight agencies should seek to produce more frequent reports and, where appropriate, issue special reports on specific matters such as the findings of a particular policy review, audit, or investigation.