American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 293–313 | Cite as

Improving the Police Complaints System: Stakeholder Collaboration as a Vehicle for Systems Change

  • Sonya Buffone
  • Allison Chenier
  • Jennifer L. Schulenberg
  • Damian Sycz


Systems change efforts seek to alter the status quo by shifting the form and function of a targeted system. Evaluation is a critical component, yet little research has examined a collaborative forum as a vehicle for change in the criminal justice system. Over 150 citizens and police were brought together to work collaboratively at improving a Canadian police complaints system. Using survey, participant observation, and focus group data, this study investigates the perceptions of this Forum as a vehicle for systems change in police oversight mechanisms. We find the Forum provided both opportunities for, and barriers to, collaborative systems change work. However, these findings need to be understood within the context of police-community relations as fear and mistrust of police influence problem definitions and potential solutions. Therefore, the collaboratives model is not a one-size-fits-all approach to systems change work in the criminal justice system.


Systems change Police complaints system Police misconduct Police-citizen relations 


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonya Buffone
    • 1
  • Allison Chenier
    • 1
  • Jennifer L. Schulenberg
    • 1
  • Damian Sycz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology & Legal StudiesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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