from the take-all-you-can,-give-nothing-back dept
New York City’s Department of Investigation can only do so much. The rest is up to the NYPD. The DOI made 145 recommendations in 2018 — covering everything from use of force reporting to sex crime investigations. To date, the NYPD has implemented less than half of those. It has completely rejected 31 recommendations, a third of those covering proposed changes to its use of force reporting.
Oversight is only as good as the agency being overseen. The NYPD doesn’t care much for accountability. So, it’s chosen to ignore the things it doesn’t like and half-ass its way towards compliance with recommendations it feels it might be able to live with.
Most of the rejections come from changes to use of force reporting. The NYPD would prefer no use of force reporting. The DOI would prefer 100% accountability in this area. A “compromise” has been reached. From the report [PDF]:
Separate from T.R.I. forms, officers are also required to indicate the use of force on arrest reports. OIG-NYPD found that in at least 30% of the arrest reports with resisting arrest charges in the 2016 study period (and 55.9% in a 2017 sample), officers stated that “No” force was used but still filed a T.R.I. form affirming that the officer indeed used reportable force during the incident. This means that officers are underreporting force on arrest reports. This accuracy issue not only undermines the efficacy of future oversight audits, but risks engendering a false sense of compliance.
As was detailed in last year’s report, this resulted in the NYPD claiming officers only used force in 1.3% of arrests, when it was clear the number was actually much higher.
The NYPD rejected completely any public reporting on use of force statistics, including the demographics of officers deploying force and of those who force was used against.
The bad news continues. The NYPD’s sex crime division remains too understaffed to handle investigations. On top of that, the limited resources are prioritized badly, resulting in too little attention being paid to larger problems.
In late 2016, OIG-NYPD began tracking a troubling trend. While reported sex crimes—especially those where the perpetrator was known to the victim—were trending up, arrests were trending down. In early 2017, OIG-NYPD received credible complaints regarding dysfunction at the NYPD Special Victims Division (SVD) squads that investigate adult sex-crimes. OIG-NYPD then launched a full investigation of SVD, focusing on the units’ staffing resources.
the investigation also found that NYPD had understaffed and under-resourced SVD for at least the last nine years. As a result of understaffing, OIGNYPD’s investigation also found that NYPD had prioritized so-called “stranger rapes” and other more high-profile cases, while “acquaintance rape” and other investigations received less attention.
Many New Yorkers might like to know how much NYPD misconduct is costing them. The NYPD has vowed to be of no help on that issue, preferring to remain ignorant of the monetary damage its officers cause.
OIG-NYPD also found that, despite NYPD’s prior acknowledgement of the benefits of analyzing litigation data, NYPD had abandoned plans to use its early intervention system to track the number, types, and monetary outcomes of lawsuits filed against individual officers.
The middle finger to the public is extended further by the NYPD’s rejections: any public reporting of lawsuits filed against the department or tracking of litigation to see what officer behavior problems might need to be addressed.
The shafting of the public continues with the NYPD’s handling of complaints against officers and supervisors. If the NYPD isn’t slow-walking investigations itself, its software will pitch in with the foot dragging.
On February 7, 2017, OIG-NYPD released a review of how NYPD tracks OG complaints as they move from NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau to the Office of the Chief of Department (OCD)’s Investigation Review Section (IRS). The investigation found inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the process, including outdated technology that is incompatible with other NYPD systems, and which slows the process for completing investigations.
The good news is the NYPD is using new software to track investigations as they move through the system. The bad news is everything else.
The NYPD claims it can process investigations in the 90-day timeframe allotted, rendering a papertrail for extended investigations unnecessary. As proof of this expeditious handling, the NYPD handed its oversight… nothing at all.
NYPD further asserts that allowing investigators to request extensions invites the possibility investigators may request such extensions more routinely and unnecessarily delay completion of the investigation within 90 days. However, when OIG-NYPD asked NYPD to run a report of how many 2018 cases were closed within 90 days, NYPD could not do so.
The NYPD is still “undecided” whether or not the public gets to know how many complaints have been filed against officers. Periodic reporting is still “under discussion” and it seems unlikely it will be moving past that point anytime soon.
The NYPD also promises to continue to surveil people participating in First Amendment-protected activity, like frequenting their house of worship or participating in protests. It rejected three of the DOI’s five recommendations: written justification of investigations impacting First Amendment rights, documentation on confidential informants placed in Constitutionally-sensitive locations, and written guidelines setting standards for all phases of these investigations.
The NYPD argues the Handschu guidelines — the ones it ignored for years while surveilling Muslims — are more than up to the task of policing the police agency that won’t police itself. Very reassuring.
The agency that has strongly resisted every attempt to control it continues to view itself as the final arbiter of police work. Outside opinions aren’t welcomed, even as the NYPD insists its opinion on policework should be respected around the world. Without change, the aspects of the agency that are bad can only trend towards worse. It’s clear from this report the NYPD feels it should answer to no one, not even the public signing its checks.