Limits of oversight

Oversight is a necessary component, but not a complete solution. This page explains some of the limits on civilian oversight.

Oversight cannot set policy

A civilian oversight board can review Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures, and make recommendations for improvements. But it cannot make those recommendations mandatory; only the Sheriff can set policies for the entire office.

Oversight cannot impose discipline

An oversight board cannot directly impose discipline, including termination, on a deputy found to have committed violations of policy, of civil rights, or of the law. Disciplinary proceedings and termination are controlled by a combination of state law and union contracts. What a board can do is make a recommendation that an officer should be disciplined, and make that recommendation public. Whether the Sheriff’s Office agrees with the recommendation then becomes part of the public record. The board can also issue public reports on how often its recommendations are rejected or accepted.

But: oversight is essential

Despite these limitations, oversight is still an essential component of fair policing and community trust. Read more about the benefits of oversight here.