On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a briefing meeting. CCR Senior Staff Attorney Darius Charney provided oral testimony during the briefing. Below is an excerpt from his testimony. Read the full testimony here.
...For the past two decades, CCR has worked closely with our many partners in the New York City police accountability movement to challenge abusive and discriminatory practices of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). For the past nine years, I have served as lead counsel in Floyd v. City of New York, a federal civil rights class action challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s stop, question, and frisk practices. In a landmark 2013 ruling, the United States District Court in Manhattan found the NYPD liable for a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stop and frisks, ordered broad reforms to the department’s stop-and-frisk policies, training, and accountability systems, and appointed a federal monitor to oversee the development and implementation of these reforms. We are two-and-a-half years in to the Floyd monitorship, and while some real progress has been made, much work remains to be done, particularly in the area of accountability-related reforms.
Through our Floyd remedial work, as well as five years of research on Department of Justice and other police reform litigation and advocacy efforts around the country and in-depth consultations with leading national police accountability experts, the Center for Constitutional Rights has developed a wealth of institutional knowledge about the necessary elements of an effective internal accountability system for the NYPD, and it is on those elements that I will focus my remarks today. In doing so, I do not mean to ignore the role that accountability mechanisms external to the NYPD, such as the CCRB, the NYPD Inspector General, the City Council, the courts, and the police reform advocacy community, can and must play in ensuring fair, impartial, and constitutional policing by the NYPD, and indeed the internal accountability measures I will discuss must work in tandem with these external sources to be truly effective. But you have heard and will hear other panelists speak on these external accountability components. I will instead talk about the changes that the NYPD itself can and must make to increase its and its officers’ accountability to the residents of New York City.
ELEMENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE INTERNAL ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM
FOR THE NYPD
The goal of an effective internal accountability system is to create an organizational culture, extending through all levels of the law enforcement agency, from senior management down to the line officers, that values and incentivizes fair, impartial, and constitutional policing. No single, isolated reform measure can accomplish this goal. What is required instead is a comprehensive reform package that includes the following five elements, each of which supports and depends upon the other four: (1) effective front line supervision of the constitutionality and fairness of officer conduct on the street; (2) performance evaluation measures that prioritize and reward the legality and fairness of officer enforcement activity over quantity; (3) a comprehensive early warning system to identify those officers most at risk of engaging in unconstitutional and/or biased policing; (4) an effective system for disciplining officers found to have committed misconduct; and (5) robust and comprehensive data collection and analysis. Since other panelists will discuss data in some depth, I will focus on the first four elements. While the NYPD has taken some initial positive steps in the last few years on each of the four, there is much more the department can and must do on each element before its internal accountability system can operate effectively. ...