From 1999 – 2002, according to the Calgary Police Commission, 95% of public complaints were resolved without the need for a formal investigation (Annual Report 2002, 7). From a practical point of view this approach is commendable but it drastically limits opportunities for formal research and program evaluation. Thorough research cannot be conducted without a sound statistical base.
The lack of documentation is the reason why very little data is available describing the effectiveness of civilian oversight bodies and their achievements. It also explains the absence of rigorous evaluations examining the frequency, processing and consequences of police misconduct (Wortley Civilian Governance 12). The greatest amount of published research data available is in Ontario where The Office of Public Complaints has received the most intense scrutiny, evaluation and criticism in the literature on civilian oversight in Canada (Clare E. Lewis, McMahon; Landau "Back to the Future").
The existing literature primarily consists of the three types of studies (Wortley Civilian Governance 11-12):
Most studies either describe the structure of the review body within a police service or outline the process or procedure through which complaints are handled (Smith 15).
There are two major structural issues in the literature on civilian review: the amount of independence of the civilian body from the police and the extent of its power and authority. Within this context, five basic types of civilian oversight have been identified (Wortley Civilian Governance 7-8):
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