Civilian oversight review boards have become a central topic in discussions about police accountability. But although there are a few models of such boards, there is little compelling evidence that any lead to the type of accountability wished for or that they improve community confidence. To better understand the role that civilian oversight review boards can play, we spoke with Brian Corr, Former President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE). Among the questions we posed:
- Why has it been so difficult for review boards to achieve success?
- Across the country, which have met with success, what did success look like, and what about the context allowed for this?
- And how might civilian oversight boards in other jurisdictions also meet with success?
- Can we achieve accountability without such boards?
Brian Corr is the immediate past president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) and has worked for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2008 where he leads both the city's Police Review & Advisory Board and its Peace Commission. He manages the city’s civilian oversight agency as well as community responses to support recovery and healing in the wake of traumatic events and violence affecting Cambridge and its residents.
Elected three times as NACOLE’s president from 2016 to 2019, Brian has served on the board of directors since 2012 and as vice-president in 2013-2014. He served as committee chair for Strategic Planning in 2015 and 2016, and co-chair of Annual Conference Planning from 2012 to 2015.
Before joining the City of Cambridge, Brian worked as the first statewide field organizer for the ACLU of Massachusetts, where his work included organizing around civilian oversight in response to allegations of police misconduct and racial profiling in Lawrence, Mass. From 2009 to 2012, Brian served on the board of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a Boston-area nonprofit that assists and empowers both families who have lost children to homicide and families whose children have taken a life — while conducting education and advocacy work to raise awareness of the causes and consequences of violence on individuals, families, and communities.