February 1, 2019, New York – In response to a report released today by a panel appointed by the New York City Police Commissioner to review NYPD disciplinary procedures, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
This report confirms what police reform advocates have been saying for years: the NYPD’s disciplinary system is a black box, whose lack of transparency makes it impossible to know if civilian complaints against officers are reviewed and adjudicated fairly, which erodes the public’s trust and faith in the existing systems of officer accountability both within and outside of the NYPD.
We are encouraged by specific recommendations that echo the reform proposals that came out of the Joint Remedial Process (JRP), where the people most directly affected by the NYPD’s abusive stop-and-frisk practices were consulted on needed reforms, as well as the judge-ordered reforms in our successful class-action lawsuit, Floyd v. City of New York, that found those practices racially discriminatory and otherwise unlawful. We are particularly encouraged by the panel’s recommendation that the NYPD’s Department Advocate’s Office limit requests that the Civilian Complaint Review Board reconsider its decisions to discipline officers. We also welcome the panel’s recommendation that the NYPD give serious consideration to adopting a disciplinary matrix to increase accountability, transparency, and efficiency. Finally, the report rightly acknowledges that New York State Civil Rights Law 50-a, which exempts officer disciplinary records from Freedom of Information public records requests, gravely undermines transparency and trust in the disciplinary process. We support the state legislature in repealing this law.
If the NYPD wants to regain the trust of the public, the Department must show that it is able and willing to hold officers accountable when they violate the fundamental rights of New Yorkers. The NYPD should adopt the panel’s recommendations.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.