Months After Violent NYPD Responses To Protests Resulted In Hundreds Of Complaints, Only Two Officers Are Facing Serious Discipline

from the NYPD-can't-even-be-bothered-to-appear-to-care dept

The repeal of a law that shielded New York police misconduct records from public view has prompted a delayed deluge of records — one temporarily slowed by the expected litigation from police and police reps who wished to put this transparency genie back in the bottle.

The records confirmed what has always been suspected: the NYPD doesn’t like to discipline its officers and the Civilian Complaint Review Board is pretty much powerless when it comes to police accountability. ProPublica — one of the early publishers of NYPD misconduct records — has obtained more information from the CCRB. This batch of info — aided by the CCRB’s own publication of misconduct data — shows it hasn’t done much to handle the influx of complaints following the NYPD’s response to a number of Black Lives Matter protests.

Nine months after racial justice protests swept across New York City and videos showed police punching, kicking and trapping demonstrators, the city agency responsible for investigating abuses has revealed the number of officers who have so far faced serious disciplinary charges.

Two.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board released the figures on Tuesday after ProPublica reported that the CCRB was declining to disclose how much progress it had made on protest cases. The new numbers show about 60% of the agency’s 297 protest-related cases are still open.

A lot of this is not the CCRB’s fault. It takes a long time to complete investigations — an average of eight months according to CCRB data. Things could be expedited, but it would take cooperation from the NYPD. That’s something the CCRB has never experienced.

Despite its legal obligations, the NYPD has been withholding significant evidence and undermining investigations of alleged abuse. It has stopped sharing a wide variety of paper records and has been redacting the names of potential witnesses from others without explanation. For two months this year, it allowed officers to refuse to be interviewed by CCRB investigators. And, critically, it often doesn’t produce body-worn camera footage.

An internal CCRB memo obtained by ProPublica enumerates roughly a dozen kinds of records withheld or redacted across the board: warrants, arrests records, documents listing who was in station house cells — key for finding witnesses — even officer injury reports.

Body camera footage is essential to substantiating claims. The NYPD knows this. That’s why it does everything it can to prevent it from being obtained by its civilian oversight. As ProPublica pointed out in that report, substantiation of allegations more than doubles when investigators have access to recordings.

That’s what’s keeping the CCRB from being effective. And that’s how you end up with only two substantiated claims and a majority of investigations still open months after the alleged events.

But what can the CCRB do? Not much, apparently. It has no power to compel production. And even if it could compel production of recordings and paperwork, the NYPD could still thwart it by doing what it already does: deliberately avoid creating paper trails.

The CCRB’s statement Wednesday also said investigators have had difficulty identifying officers “due to the Police Department not keeping track of where officers were deployed and due to officers wearing protective gear with incorrect shield numbers.”

It’s intentional internal mismanagement. It’s a protective shield disguised as incompetence. If the city cared, it could do something about this. But the NYPD runs the city, not vice versa. And it has done so for years with the full support of mayors who have pretty much idolized “New York’s Finest,” elevating them above the accountability they owe to the people they serve.

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Comments on “Months After Violent NYPD Responses To Protests Resulted In Hundreds Of Complaints, Only Two Officers Are Facing Serious Discipline”

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8 Comments
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That One Guy (profile) says:

If you're giving orders to your 'boss' they're not in charge

Honestly at this point I’m not sure which is a worse explanation, that the NYPD is nothing more than a gang of criminals and they’ve got the mayor and other city officials so terrified of them that none dare reign them in, or they’re a gang of criminals and they’ve corrupted the mayor and city officials to the point that said officials see nothing wrong in a legally sanctioned gang of murderous thugs.

Whichever the case when an ‘oversight’ board can be stonewalled and told ‘no’ by the group they are supposedly providing oversight for it’s pretty clear that they’re not going to be very effective as they are not the ones in charge of that relationship. For any oversight to be effective they need to be willing and able to issue demands, not requests, and have the capacity to bring the hammer down for non-compliance in the same way anyone else would face penalties for refusing to follow a court’s orders.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

You mean the police aren’t following the laws?
This, this is my shocked face.

Refusing to do your duty should result in summary termination, none of this union arbitrator crap just GTFO.

They cut corners to change the narrative & hide who was involved.
How can any DA bring any charges resulting from the work of the NYPD? The routinely lie, omit information, hide evidence… they can’t even keep cops who abuse citizens in line.
How can any officer of the court who is to uphold justice trust anything that comes out of this street gang?

Bloof (profile) says:

Lets be honest with ourselves, the NYPD were never going to respond to protests about their violence and lack of accountability with anything but violence and lack of accountability. Politicians are too afraid of them to change much of anything, the most the people of New York will get is some access to records showing how badly they’re treated, and even that is being fought to the bitter end.

sumgai (profile) says:

There is an easy solution

…. and that is for the citizenry to submit an Initiative (or the equivalent in NYC) for a popular vote to have the CCRB become the Police Defense Against Citizen Complaints Board. In summary, any citizen complaint is grounds for automatic termination, no union interjection allowed. You can bet your sweet bippy that a lot of documentation will be forthcoming for that defense, make no mistake. I’d give it a 21 day time limit to present credible evidence, and after that, it’s all over but the shouting.

Yes, this does mean that an officer is presumed guilty and must prove his innocence within a reasonable doubt, said reasonableness being that found in the common man-on-the-street, not a legal wise-guy. But we have a sure-fire example of that already at hand, and have had for the last 19.5 years – the TSA and their "prove you’re not a terrorist" behavior model.

This is just for starters. But the real problem isn’t that the police have become perpetually self-corrupting, it’s that this shit didn’t just show up out of nowhere – it was brought in by a few who were already of a corrupt mindset, and they simply expanded their field of influence until we have the crap we are seeing today. These kinds of malcontents need to be weeded out at the beginning, not found out 5 or 6, or 8, or even 10 to 15 years later. If and when appropriate, I can lay out some details on how to fix that, but just now that would be a little too off-topic.

Anonymous Coward says:

But what can the CCRB do?

now that they are getting some teeth! they should be able to put them on administrative leave WITHOUT pay, until they decide to cooperate! the CCRB already has a list, and if they don’t get the records that they ask for then anyone one the LIST "GETS FIRED!"
it is real simple. they have a complaint. most likely have a name, badge #, description of the cop, an allegation of what they did. if the blue lies mafia don’t want to give up any records then base there termination solely on the complaint!
so Mr. popo, you don’t want to give us any info to clear your name? no problem! YOUR FIRED! oh… that wasn’t you, you were using someone else’s gear. since you failed to give us any info to clear you, too bad! I’m sure burger king is hiring…..

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