Complaints Against Cops to be Tried by CCRB, Not NYPD

Deal Gives CCRB Teeth

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NYPD, police, New York Police Department (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The City's Civilian Complaint Review Board, or CCRB, will be granted the power to prosecute cases of police misconduct it substantiates under the terms of an agreement brokered between City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the Bloomberg administration.

Prior to this agreement the CCRB could only refer their findings to the Police Commissioner  who had total discretion over what, if any, penalty would be levied against an offending officer. The NYPD has its own internal trial process for police misconduct cases.  But critics charged that officers the CCRB believed engaged in misconduct rarely got penalized by the NYPD.

"For quite sometime now New Yorkers have complained that the very important Civilian Complaint Review Board is a tooth less tiger, that they go there, they bring cases and they are substantiated by the CCRB and nothing happens," said Speaker Quinn. "Now that trial will be conducted by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, not by the police department."

In 2010 there were 6,476 civilian complaints lodged against the police compared to 7,660 in 2009, a 15 percent decline. But over the same period the number of substantiated instances of police misconduct jumped from 197 in 2009 to 260 in 2010, a 30 percent spike, according to CCRB figures.

Quinn said in very limited circumstances the police commissioner would have the discretion to suspend a CCRB trial on a substantiated case from going forward, but would have to offer a detailed explanation for that decision.  Quinn said those circumstances would be limited to situations in which the actions of the officer under the scrutiny by the CCRB were already being criminally investigated or the officer had no prior disciplinary record or previously substantiated CCRB complaints.

"This is a good first step," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has been pushing for years for increased accountability for police misconduct. "But the Bloomberg-Kelly police department is out of control and our next mayor is going to have to make fundamental changes to end the massive stop-and-frisk abuse and racial profiling that has been the standard operating procedure the NYPD."

Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, thinks more oversight is needed. "This is a very good first step in establishing comprehensive civilian oversight of the NYPD. But, when the Mayor's Commission to Combat Police Corruption was established as an agency separate from the CCRB, there was implicit recognition that oversight was required beyond the narrow jurisdiction of the CCRB."

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch, an outspoken critic of the CCRB, was sharply critical of its new powers.  “Our problem with the CCRB has always been first, their predisposition that police officers are always wrong. Second, their inexperienced investigators who conduct faulty investigations that arrive at improper conclusions and now those wrong conclusions will now be prosecuted at these kangaroo trials.”

Speaker Quinn said she expected the CCRB to operate under its new enhanced powers starting at least by the start of the next fiscal year July 1.

Under the deal, the CCRB will also receive additional funding for its new responsibilities.


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Comments [2]

Will Galison

Sunny Sheu was an anti-corruption whistleblower who was kidnapped and and threatened with death by two NYPD detectives from the Queens DA bureau.

In March of 2010, Sunny went to the CCRB to request the names of the cops that kidnapped him and the name of the person who ordered the detention.

On May 26th, 2010, Sunny sent this letter to the CCRB, complaining that they had not responded to his request:

One month later he was found bludgeoned to death in an alley in Queens. The Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death "blunt force trauma to the head with skull fractures and brain injuries", but there has been no investigation by the NYPD.

If the CCRB had transparently investigated the kidnapping and death threats against Sunny Sheu, the killers would not have dared to do the job.

The name of the person who ordered the kidnapping and death threats would be known to the public, as they must be under law.

This case sums up the murderous cooperation between the NYPD and the CCRB.

Mar. 29 2012 12:59 PM
Tom from Brooklyn

Pretty stunning that journalists aren't pointing out the absurdity of Quinn announcing an MOU between the NYPD and the CCRB. And, that Councilman Garodnick introduced legislation a few years ago to give the CCRB prosecutorial power in substantiated cases of police misconduct. Why, as Speaker, would Quinn not push legislation that would codify CCRB prosecutorial power? MOU's are, of course, not legally binding. Indeed, the 2001 MOU between the NYPD and the CCRB was never implemented.

Mar. 28 2012 08:15 AM

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