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2004.12.09 > For Immediate Release
contact: Teresa Gleason - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: tmgleason@mail.unomaha.edu

Police Auditors Can Improve Policing, According to UNO Report

Omaha - Police auditors can be an effective means of improving police professionalism, according to a statement released Dec. 9 by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Police Professionalism Initiative (PPI).

Police auditors can enhance police professionalism by focusing on organizational change, according to the statement. Traditional civilian review boards, by contrast, focus on individual complaints and do not address organization and management issues that are often the cause of police misconduct.

The statement, "How Police Auditors Can Improve Policing," is the product of two conferences sponsored by the UNO PPI. The first conference was held in Omaha in March 2003, and the second in Portland, Ore., last September.

Eleven police auditors from around the country have endorsed the statement. They include the Omaha Public Safety Auditor, the San Jose (Calif.) Independent Police Auditor, the Boise (Idaho) Community Ombudsman and others.

Police auditors can improve policing through a process known as policy review, said Samuel Walker, a UNO professor of criminal justice and coordinator for the UNO PPI.

Auditors investigate issues that arise through citizen complaints about the police and then make recommendations for changes in a police department's policies and procedures. The statement cites a 90 percent reduction in bites of citizens by the canine unit in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) following recommendations by the Special Counsel to the LASD.

Police auditors are increasingly recognized as an effective form of citizen oversight of the police, Walker said. The city of Denver approved a police auditor system in the November 2004 elections and is currently in the process of establishing an office.

The UNO PPI began in 2002. It maintains a Web site at http://www.policeaccountability.org.

The police auditor statement is the eleventh report issued by the PPI. Previous reports covered police "DNA sweep" searches, the investigation of citizen complaints against the police and police outreach programs to the Hispanic/Latino community.

For more information about the statement or current research activities at the PPI, contact Walker at (402) 554-3590 or samwalker@unomaha.edu.

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