More NYPD Reforms: Super-Violent Plainclothes Units Disbanded, Body Cam Footage Given A 30-Day Release Mandate

from the keep-on-fixing.-it's-still-very-broken. dept

A bunch of police reform efforts are underway in New York City. NYPD officers may not have been responsible for the killing that has sparked protests around the country, but they've provided plenty of ammo for police critics and reformers over the years.

With Mike Bloomberg no longer running front office interference for the PD, the department has found itself absorbing more un-deflected criticism. This criticism is finally turning to action, now that it's incredibly inconvenient for ANY city to pretend its law enforcement agencies aren't in need of an overhaul.

Early last week, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea decided to dismantle the NYPD's plainclothes units. These officers didn't look like police officers. And since they didn't look like police officers, they didn't behave like police officers. Removing the uniform seemed to remove all pretense of accountability as well, resulting in the so-called (and strangely-named) "anti-crime" units being the NYPD's leader in crimes committed against citizens.

The plainclothes "anti-crime" units operated out of unmarked vehicles, and did not respond to 911 calls. Instead, they were charged with what Shea called "proactive" policing. The anti-crime teams across all 77 precincts will be disbanded.

"When you look at the number of anti-crime officers that operate within New York City, and when you look at a disproportionate, quite frankly, number of complaints, shootings—and they are doing exactly what was asked of them," Shea said. "I think we can do better. I think that policing in 2020 is not what it was in five, ten, twenty years ago."

While it seems strange Commissioner Shea would state that generating complaints and corpses is "exactly what was asked" of the anti-crime units, the good news is they won't be roaming around menacing the public as a cohesive unit. The 600 officers were responsible for 31% of fatal NYPD shootings, despite only being 6% of the total police force. In recent years, "anti-crime" officers were responsible for a number of high-profile killings of citizens, including Eric Garner, whose death similarly prompted protests all over the nation. The disbanding scatters the plainclothes officers across several other units, giving more divisions a chance to be corrupted by these bad apples.

On a more positive note, the NYPD can no longer act like body camera footage is a proprietary good the public shouldn't be allowed to have access to. The NYPD's body camera policy -- released months after the cameras were deployed (as the result of court-ordered reforms) -- gave the department every excuse it wanted to never release footage.

This followed a lawsuit against the NYPD by one of the city's police unions, which sought to block almost any release of footage ever under the state's infamous "50-a" law, which forbids the release of police officers' personnel files and disciplinary records. (Or at least it did... until it was taken off the books in another recent reform move.) How footage of interactions with residents fit these descriptions was left up to the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's imagination.

The policy has been rewritten in light of national events. The previous version gave the NYPD up to 30 days to come up with a reason why it wouldn't be releasing recordings. The new policy mandates the release of certain recordings within 30 days, flipping the old policy on its head.

The new policy obligates the NYPD to release and eventually publish online all audio and video of officers’ interactions that involve gunshots fired in public spaces, the deployment of tasers and the use of force that results in death or substantial bodily injury.

“Effective immediately, the NYPD’s 24,000 body cameras now have a mandatory 30 day release policy,” he tweeted Tuesday morning.

Certainly the NYPD will do everything it can to prevent release of these recordings, despite the mandate. It has two powerful unions willing to sue the city and their members' employer over anything that might result in additional transparency or accountability. But the city's tolerance for these unions may finally be running out. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who talked a tough police reform game while campaigning only to dial back his rhetoric once in office, is back on the warpath and calling out the unions for their contribution to the destruction of the relationship between city residents and the NYPD.

“The SBA leadership has engaged in racist activities so many times I can’t even count it,” he said of the NYPD sergeants’ union.

“I’m just sick of it, I’ve been sick of it for years,” he added. “What I’ve seen of the SBA, and too often the PBA, is efforts to divide us, to hold us back, to create all sorts of negativity, to push back progress, to undermine efforts at unity. It’s literally anti-social what these union leaders do."

Whether these reform efforts result in lasting change remains to be seen. But it's far more than anyone's demanded of the NYPD in years.

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Filed Under: anti-crime, body cams, dermot shea, nypd, plainclothes unit, police


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 9:46pm

    Why do think they are in need of an overhaul again?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Jun 2020 @ 10:54pm

    "In recent years, "anti-crime" officers were responsible for a number of high-profile killings of citizens, including Eric Garner, whose death similarly prompted protests all over the nation."

    This reminds me of the West Midlands "Serious Crime Squad" in the 70s. They were supposedly set up to tackle major crimes following one of the most infamous IRA bombings in UK history. But, after the "Birmingham Six" proved to basically be a group of the first Irishmen they could torture and bully into giving false confessions, and investigations into other convictions found very serious problems, they were disbanded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2020 @ 11:43pm

    Fuck you idiot foreigner. I'm from New York. Detectives help catch criminals, asshole, and they do it quietly and quickly without uniforms. They're heroes, and we're going to sorely miss them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2020 @ 1:51am

      Re:

      You lose, Hamilton. Suck it!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2020 @ 4:35am

      Re:

      Once again, I have to ask someone for a coherent statement/argument/logic.

      For those few people whom the problem here is not blindly obvious:
      1) who's the foreigner? Are you trying to suggest Tim is? have some evidence (like for example Tech Dirt being operated in a different country that New York City)?
      2) Why are you talking about 'Detectives' the article doesn't mention them (also for the ignorant/confused not all police are detectives)
      3) Even if I grant you mean 'police' in (2), the article in no way suggests that the police department is being disbanded. Also the article makes it pretty clear the "plainclothes anti-crime" units are not in fact detectives. So detectives will still be a position in the police department.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 5:01am

        Re: Re:

        "I have to ask someone for a coherent statement/argument/logic"

        This guy? Likely not worth the effort.

        What appears to be happening is that his addled tiny mind has reacted to the news of a single type of police unit being disbanded as if it referred to all plain clothes detectives, and then the xenophobia that runs his life made him assume that the people saying this is a good thing must be something "other" than him.

        It's the usual mix of ignorance and fear that runs the lives of some.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2020 @ 6:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ... says the foreigner of which I speak.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 6:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            ...which is very strange since I didn't write the article. Are you so incompetent that you couldn't work out how the reply button works? If so, my last statement would seem to hold true.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2020 @ 11:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Pretty sure hes trying to imply youre the same person with multuple accounts

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 9:18pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                He does project a lot of baseless fantasies. It would be nice if he announced which one he's currently hallucinating so that the sane among us don't have to guess.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 12:14am

    ... I'm sure the timing is a coincidence

    But remember, the mass protests are unnecessary and only hurting the cause of addressing police excesses and abuse of power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 24 Jun 2020 @ 5:01am

    Ohhh! BENevolent Association

    For a moment there I thought you had misspelled MALevolent.

    My bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Naughty Autie, 24 Jun 2020 @ 5:48am

    The new policy mandates the release of certain recordings within 30 days, flipping the old policy on its head.

    Now watch the number of 'accidental' deletions go rocketing up. The NYPD (or at least its officers) is so predictable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      arp2 (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 7:34am

      Re:

      They also 'forget' to switch on their cameras, cover them up, etc.

      Re: 30 days. Cops are given enormous amounts of time to prepare to respond to allegations of misconduct. Investigators often aren't allowed to talk to them for 48-72 hours (even with counsel present) so that they can process the "trauma" of their (alleged) misconduct. In this interim period, some police departments give the cops access to the video footage of the cops on scene, etc. Obviously, its all intended to allow the cops to get their story straight.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Naughty Autie, 24 Jun 2020 @ 6:34am

    In relation to this, I just read on the IGN boards that Colorado is taking steps to end qualified immunity (read impunity) for cops, but I can't inform Mike et al. via the usual channel because mobile devices don't handle Craptcha and ReCraptcha at all well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 24 Jun 2020 @ 12:57pm

    Ok, ok...

    We take the Vid's and store them in the lockers, until someone Bitches.. Then sort out all these STACKS of vid...
    Sorted by Station, person, car, ???,???...
    Or we copy it to a HD, on a computer Linked to the internet...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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