Justice scholar: police review boards can work


Independent community review boards for police can be useful, a criminal justice scholar said Monday at the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission’s annual goal-setting retreat.

“It’s not an easy thing,” Thomas Blomberg, dean of Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Justice, told the justice panel’s half-day gathering at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

But, he said, “It can work. And it has worked in a number of jurisdictions.”

Blomberg, the planning meeting’s keynote speaker, was responding to a question by justice commission member, and defense attorney, Nellie King, who said the justice commission has not really weighed in on the cjclogo150issue.

County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, who’s on the justice panel’s executive committee but did not attend Monday’s retreat, has been a vocal proponent of a police review board, especially following an April series by The Palm Beach Post and WPTV NewsChannel 5 that found people shot by deputies have disproportionately been black. The county commission shelved the idea in September, saying such a board would have no authority over the Sheriff’s Office.

Blomberg said Monday that “evidence is mixed” on the effectiveness of such panels, depending on where they operate. But he said they work only when police and the people they serve work together rather than against each other.

“This is a good way to begin discourse, and it’s useful not just for community members themselves but officers as well,” Blomberg said. “The police officers and community, they’re part of a whole. It’s not either-or.”