Professor of Criminology, Florida State University
- Civil service commissions play an integral role in shaping the policies and procedures in police departments.
In the article, “Examining the Relationship Between Civil Service Commissions and Municipal Police Diversity,” Kringen evaluates the role that civil service commissions have on police diversity. She defines civilian oversight as the power that individuals who are not sworn in as officers have over police policies and procedures. Civilians can oversee policing through community groups in support of their goals (i.e. mothers against drunk driving) and through civil service commissions, which are designed to buffer government employees from politics. They also have the authority to directly influence administrative procedures. Civil service commissions balance many conflicting interests from equal employment, pay equality, unions, etc. Hiring falls under the duties of the civil service commission, but they must follow the rules set by previous members, which often disqualified minority applicants disproportionately. Studies show that police action is considered more legitimate by respondents when the race of the police officer match the race of the respondent. A diverse team is necessary as a majority of officers are White, but minorities have disproportionate contact with officers. Kringen concludes that to advance police goals of diversity, they will need to look to civil service commissions to adapt to the needs of society.