1966 November 8

NYC Voters Abolish Civilian Complaint Review Board for the Police


In a referendum initiated by the local police unions, New York City voters abolished the citizen- dominated Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). Earlier in the year, New York City Mayor John Lindsay revised the existing but police-dominated CCRB by giving a majority of the seats on the Board to citizens who were not officials with the New York City Police Department (NYPD). The police union fought back by sponsoring a referendum on this date. The voters abolished the CCRB by a margin of two to one. Twenty-seven years later, in 1993, a CCRB that was completely independent of the NYPD was established.

The following year a judge in Philadelphia, on March 29, 1967, declared the Philadelphia Police Advisory Board a violation of that city’s charter. The two events eliminated the only two civilian review boards in the country. Civilian review quietly reappeared in 1969 in Kansas City and in 1972 in Berkeley, California. By the 1980s, citizen oversight of the police had spread to almost all big cities.

Read about the history of citizen oversight of the police: Samuel Walker, Police Accountability: The Role of Citizen Oversight (2001)

Learn more about citizen oversight across the country at the National Association for Citizen Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE): www.nacole.org

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