City Council Formally Directing NYPD Inspector General Investigation into How NYPD Tracks, Monitors and Addressees Abusive Conduct; Will Form CCRB Community Outreach Locations in Member District Offices
CITY HALL- New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Public Safety Chair Vanessa Gibson and the City Council announced the first steps of a comprehensive response to the Eric Garner incident today. The initial phase of the response will include a formal request for an Inspector General investigation into how NYPD tracks, monitors and addresses alleged abusive conduct and the establishment of CCRB Community Outreach locations Council Member District Offices.
“The City Council will be taking a comprehensive look at the steps we can take to find a positive outcome from the tragic events which led to the death of Eric Garner,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This is why we are formally requesting the Inspector General look into how the NYPD tracks abusive conduct and why we will be creating CCRB outreach offices across the City. The overwhelming majority of NYPD officers serve honorably and with great distinction every day and these reforms are about ensuring the actions of a few don’t malign the whole.”
“With the growing focus on the importance of establishing a database that would serve as an ‘early warning system’ and make it possible for the Police Department to track, monitor and address the abuse complaints that are made against police officers in our City, I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for today’s announcement,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson Chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee. “Today’s announcement is a two-pronged approach that puts the full weight of the Council behind the Inspector General looking into what the NYPD is doing to ensure that abuse complaints are used appropriately in managing cops on the street. This announcement also makes history by dramatically enhancing access to the Civilian Complaint Review Board for members of the public concerned about police misconduct. I look forward to working with my Council colleagues in moving forward with a reform agenda that enhances public safety for all New Yorkers.”
“The tragic death of Eric Garner is a clear call for meaningful policy changes at several levels within our city. While we stand with the vast majority of officers who risk their lives to protect our city — and do so with courtesy, professionalism and respect — we must also make significant changes to a system that has allowed bad actors to continue to walk the beat. And so I proudly join Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my Council colleagues in calling for increased oversight from the City Council, the Inspector General’s office and the Civilian Complaint Review Board. We cannot continue with business as usual. We will not add one more name to the list of those needlessly killed by overzealous policing policies,” said Council Member Debi Rose.
“The New York City Council takes its oversight role over the NYPD seriously,” said Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Good community-police relations are essential to having a strong police force. These straight-forward actions by the City Council show our commitment to helping maintain a strong and well-respected police force. We must ensure that all New Yorkers believe that the justice system will be there for them when they need it.”
Formal Request of Inspector General Investigation
In 2013 the Council passed Local Law 70, which established an Inspector General for NYPD who independently monitors and reviews police policy, conducts investigations and recommend changes to the department.
The Council will formally direct the IG to investigate how the NYPD tracks, monitors and addresses abusive police conduct. In particular, how does the NYPD deal with “problem” officers with a track record or poor interactions with the public? The IG will also be directed to review how whistleblowers are protected. Findings should be made public.
CCRB Community Outreach
Council Members will create CCRB Community Outreach locations in their District Offices (DO) to make the complaint and evidence gathering processes more efficient and available at locations and during hours convenient for community residents. In addition, CCRB will educate the community about the CCRB and train DO staff on how to help constituents address issues related to policing.
Currently, to complete the filing of a CCRB complaint, members of the public must come to CCRB’s offices in downtown Manhattan to give a formal statement. A complaint cannot be acted upon without this statement. Many complaints are dropped because of the inconvenience of this requirement and the inconvenience for witnesses of appearing at the CCRB offices. CCRB is attempting to conduct more investigations and take testimony of witnesses in the field. CCRB into the communities in this way will provide constituents a much more efficient way to learn about how they can act on incidences of police abuse and will make it much easier for CCRB to follow up on complaints. Council Members and their constituents will be able to take a more active role in police monitoring.
CCRB will perform the following functions in DOs:
• Establish a presence in communities
• Take formal statements on complaints during evening and appointment hours, thereby avoiding the requirement of having to travel to downtown Manhattan
• Provide space for investigators to follow up on complaints, take statements from witnesses, conduct other investigative functions
• Train DO staff in how CCRB functions and in how to most effectively help constituents who present issues regarding police practices.
• Conduct events for the public to raise awareness and understanding of what CCRB does, how to file complaints, how to respond to police during an encounter, and what police and the public may and may not do during an encounter.
“Last year, the NYC Council passed legislation to create an office for an Inspector General for the New York Police Department. Today, we ask Inspector General Philip Eure to investigate and monitor cases of abusive police conduct. We need to determine whether the current investigatory system is reliable and effective in holding police officers accountable for any such conduct. Additionally, we need the Civilian Complaint Review Board to be more accessible to our communities,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez, co-chair of the Black, Latino & Asian Caucus.
“This request, coming from the City Council, is just one of many of our first steps to help improve the relationship between the police and our local communities. It is also designed to let the NYPD know that it has a partner in the legislative branch in this challenge of changing the department’s culture and achieving its goals. I am committed, given recent events, to work with my colleagues in the Council to formulate Civilian Complaint Review Board Community Offices in our district offices in order to hold the NYPD accountable and build a better relationship between officers and the communities they serve,” said Council Member Andy King, co-chair of the Black, Latino & Asian Caucus.
“The vast majority of NYPD officers work hard and well to keep our communities safe, risk their safety for ours, and show respect to New Yorkers across lines of race and neighborhood. There’s good reason to believe that a small fraction of officers commit the majority of abuses that undermine community-police relations, rob people of their dignity and civil rights, cost the city money in lawsuits, and at worst can result in the loss of innocent life — but we need to see the data,” said Council Member Brad Lander, Deputy Leader. “An NYPD Inspector General’s report on tracking, monitoring and addressing abusive conduct among officers will help the NYPD to improve its systems for addressing persistent misconduct, focus where it needs to, and make all New Yorkers safer.”
“While improving police-community relations in New York City should include retraining police officers, much more must be done,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader and co-chair of the Council’s Taskforce to Combat Gun Violence. “We must utilize a multi-pronged effort with all agencies to instill the cultural-systemic shift needed in our police department. It is my hope the Inspector General’s officer becomes a key player in this collaboration, in-part by investigating how our police department tracks, monitors and addresses abusive conduct in the ranks. By reporting these incidents, we will be one step closer to fixing the broken policing system that has unfairly targeted communities of more color for far too long.”