Journal of Sustainable Social Change


Joseph A. McMillan 0000-0003-0933-6689

Jacqueline Smith ORCID: 0000-0002-4989-2906

William Benet ORCID: 0000-0002-9009-3938


Following the murder of George Floyd, the U.S. Congress called upon the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to play a role in the reimagining of policing in America, including a transformation of policing from a warrior to a guardian mentality. In turn, NOBLE partnered with the Institute for Polarities of Democracy (the Institute) to conduct an analysis of the 21st Century Policing Report (the Report), which focused on addressing a myriad of issues that challenged the relationship between the police and communities. The Report determined there were six “pillars” necessary for effective policing in America, including (1) Trust and Legitimacy; (2) Policy and Oversight; (3) Technology and Social Media; (4) Community Policing and Crime Reduction; (5) Training and Education; and (6) Officer Wellness and Safety that encapsulated areas in need of attention. This review was an in-depth analysis conducted with support from the Walden University Center for Social Change through its strategic alliance with the Institute.

In this article, we summarize the results of the Institute's initial review of Pillar Two of the Report, Policy and Oversight, with a specific focus on civilian oversight of police. Information to support this article was taken from original data that supported the compilation of the Report. The Institute’s analysis of a sampling of responses (from the participants against a survey question) was identified as correlating with polarities of democracy values. Additionally, a separate comprehensive critical analysis was conducted by comparing various principles believed necessary for effective civilian oversight of police against individual polarities of democracies value sets. Finally, the 5-Step SMALL Process (Seeing, Mapping, Assessing, Learning, and Leveraging) was identified as a tool that could be used to implement recommendations contained in the Report. From this tool, Polarity Maps for Justice and Due Process, as well as Participation and Representation, were developed to graphically depict the correlation of the polarities of democracy value sets with the preconditions for effective civilian oversight of police.