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How to Watch the Watchmen: Understanding Police Oversight Models and Advocacy Methods

Level: Beginner
Runtime: 64 minutes
Recorded Date: May 27, 2021
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  • Models of Police Oversight
  • Three Main Focus Areas of Police Oversight
  • Improved Complain Process
  • Common Issues with Police Oversight
  • How Should an Oversight Agency be Structured?
  • Potential Roadblocks to Changing Police Oversight
  • Potential Reimagining Policing through Oversight
Runtime: 1 hour, 4 minutes
Recorded: May 27, 2021


Learn about models of civilian and community oversight of policing and the role of the legal profession.

This program was recorded on May 27th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Priscilla Ocen

Professor of Law
Loyola Law School

Priscilla Ocen is a Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, where she teaches criminal law, family law and a seminar on race, gender and the law. Her work explores the ways in which race, gender and class interact to render women of color vulnerable to various forms of violence and criminalization. Her writing has appeared in academic journals such as the California Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the George Washington Law Review, the UC Davis Law Review and the Du Bois Review as well as popular media outlets such as the Atlantic Magazine, Los Angeles Daily Journal, Ebony and Al Jazeera.

Ocen received the inaugural PEN America Writing for Justice Literary Fellowship and served as a 2019-2020 Fulbright Fellow, based out of Makerere University School of Law in Kampala, Uganda, where she studied the relationship between gender-based violence and women’s incarceration.

Ocen is the co-author (along with Kimberle Crenshaw and Jyoti Nanda) of the influential policy report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected. The report was part a larger effort co-organized by Ocen and others to highlight the various forms of discipline and punishment experienced by Black girls, which are often overlooked in mainstream advocacy efforts and policy initiatives. As part of this effort, Ocen co-hosted a community hearing on the status of Black women and girls in Los Angeles.

Ocen has applied her work to broader advocacy efforts, as she has served as a trainer for federal public defenders, assisted with the development of new programs in domestic violence centers in South Los Angeles, and strategized with community groups regarding efforts to monitor conditions of confinement in the Los Angeles County women’s jail. Ocen is also a member of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Oversight Commission.

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DeRay McKesson


DeRay Mckesson is a protestor, civil rights activist, and educator. A Baltimore native, he has advocated for children and families since he was a teen, was founding director of an after-school/out-of-school program, and provided leadership to executive teams of two large urban school districts. Spurred by Mike Brown’s death and subsequent protests in Ferguson, MO, Mckesson joined the effort to address mass incarceration and police killings of blacks and minorities. He co-founded the Protestor Newsletter, Campaign Zero (a policy platform to end police violence), and Mapping Police Violence. Fortune Magazine named him one of 2015’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders, and the New School awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2016.

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Michael G. Tobin

Executive Director, Office of Police Complaints
District of Columbia

Michael G. Tobin was appointed OPC's executive director in November 2014. Prior to joining the agency, Mr. Tobin served as the executive director of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, where he oversaw the Commission’s work in a range of functions, including the initiation and implementation of police policies and procedures, conducting independent investigations of misconduct allegations, ensuring internal investigations are conducted appropriately, and providing mediation between citizens and fire or police department employees.

Mr. Tobin began his career with the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a police officer, and upon graduation from law school he joined the Milwaukee City Attorney's office as an assistant city attorney. There, he was a police legal advisor, guided internal affairs investigations, prosecuted police employees for misconduct, and represented the city's interests in police department litigation for almost 20 years in state courts and administrative agencies.

Mr. Tobin is a former Army National Guard Colonel and in 2005 he was appointed Rule of Law Officer to manage the U.S. military program to reconstruct the civilian justice system nation-wide for the country of Afghanistan. Mr. Tobin is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and State Bar of Wisconsin. His current board appointments include positions with the Mayor's Office of Veteran's Affairs, Metropolitian Police Department Officers Standard and Training Board, and the Metropolitian Police Department Use of Force Review Board.

Mr. Tobin received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Farah Muscadin

Director, Office of Police Oversight
City of Austin, TX

Farah was appointed to her role due to her wide range of experience and expertise, and for her demonstrated commitment to fairness and transparency. Farah’s mission is to improve trust between Austin residents and the Austin Police Department.

Farah studied business and law and holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Law. She served in leadership roles at Chicago State University, Cook County Public Defender’s office, and for the Mayor of the City of Chicago. Her community involvement includes being a mentor through the GirlForward organization and serving on the board of YWCA Greater Austin.

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