Stop Cops from Burying Complaints
- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
New York Daily News
Stop the cops from burying complaints
By CHRISTOPHER DUNN and DONNA LIEBERMAN
Tuesday, November 9th, 2004
Last week, it surfaced that Police Commissioner Raymond
Kelly decided in August that officers charged by the
Civilian Complaint Review Board with misconduct during the
Republican National Convention would not face discipline
until after a second investigation by an internal NYPD panel.
This assures that some officers guilty of misconduct never
will be disciplined, and it undermines the goal of civilian
oversight of the Police Department.
After the City Council set up the CCRB in 1993 as an
independent agency to investigate complaints of police
misconduct, Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the NYPD did everything
they could to undermine the agency. One of their most
effective strategies was to insist on the department's
conducting its own investigations of the cases the CCRB
already had investigated and referred for discipline. That
let the NYPD drag out the disciplinary process, get rid of
complaints and render the CCRB almost meaningless.
Under pressure, the department eventually abandoned its
re-investigations. Even so, only tiny numbers of cops have
faced discipline as a result of CCRB investigations,
Currently, the CCRB refers only about 7% of all complaints
to the NYPD for discipline.
The department has sought to justify its re-investigations
by accusing the CCRB of trying before the convention to
encourage "anarchists" to file complaints. But the CCRB is
investigating only 59 convention complaints, proving this is
In truth, there is ample evidence of police abuse. The
Manhattan district attorney's office already has dismissed
more than 200 cases of protesters, bystanders and observers
illegally arrested during the convention. Shortly after we
charged that police had unlawfully fingerprinted thousands
of people, the NYPD destroyed the prints. And the pervasive
video surveillance of lawful demonstrations may have
violated First Amendment rights of tens of thousands.
The decision to resurrect the re-investigation practice
represents a big step backward from meaningful, independent
oversight of the cops. If Kelly is not willing to abolish
this special panel, Mayor Bloomberg needs to step in and put
a stop to it.
Dunn is associate legal director and Lieberman executive
director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
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