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Report recommends improvements in how NYPD handles complaints of biased policing

June 26, 2019 - 12:59 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The NYPD's inspector general is out with a report recommending improvements in how the department handles complaints of biased policing.

According to the report, 2,500 such complaints were filed between 2014 and last year, but none were substantiated and none were investigated by the department's civilian complaint review board.

Web Extra: Click here to read the report. (pdf)

As part of the investigation, OIG-NYPD examined the NYPD’s handling of 888 biased policing allegations filed between late 2014 and early 2017, reviewed over 5,000 pages of NYPD documents, attended NYPD’s recruit and active-duty uniformed officer trainings related to biased policing, and interviewed investigators who handled such allegations.

According to the report, OIG-NYPD found that a majority of the biased policing complaints (68%) contained allegations of discriminatory policing based on race, ethnicity, color, or national origin and that the largest category of complainants were black (66.5%).

Other complaints alleged biased policing on the basis of religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, age, citizenship status, alienage, housing status, and other nonphysical characteristics.

"Establishing effective and fair processes for the investigation of biased policing allegations is a fundamental component of the police department’s relationship with the public, 
helping to build trust and confidence. The findings in this Report can provide guidance to ensuring that NYPD and all entities involved in these investigations are working together and sharing data," DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said.

"Biased policing, actual or perceived, undermines the core value of equal treatment under the law and also poses a threat to public safety because racial profiling and other types of biased policing undermine the public's confidence and trust in law enforcement," said Inspector General Philip K. Eure. "NYPD must ensure that these complaints are thoroughly investigated and tracked. In addition, the independent CCRB should expand its authority to investigate biased policing complaints filed with that agency."

The report also found several investigative deficiencies, including instances of NYPD misclassifying complaints and failing to conduct the requisite interviews with subject officers and complainants. And, while NYPD trains investigators on how to investigate complaints of biased policing, the report found that some investigators did not receive this training before they began investigating these complaints.

The report makes 24 recommendations, the majority of which are to NYPD as well as a few that apply to the Civilian Complaint Review Board and other agencies to improve the city’s handling of biased policing complaints.

The NYPD issued the following statement in respose to the report's findings:

"The NYPD understands that constitutional, biased-free policing is foundational to building community trust and keeping New York City even safer. The NYPD is committed to addressing misconduct in any form, and has created comprehensive policies and procedures to prevent, investigate, discipline, and monitor any and all instances of biased policing. Whether enhancing training for officers; outfitting all 22,000 patrol cops with body-worn cameras; or dramatically reducing stop-question-frisk, every change is designed to bring police and community closer together -- and each has been overseen by the Federal Court and its monitor. These efforts are producing results: biased policing complaints to IAB are down more than 33.1% year-to-year as of May 31, 2019, and the NYPD has imposed more discipline on the substantiated cases of racial or protected-class slurs than any other major city police department. 

Importantly, the instances cited in the OIG report represent less than .001% of the millions of annual NYPD interactions with the public. At the same time, the period of review of the Report does not capture the effect of all of the reforms the NYPD has implemented since 2014. And while the OIG highlighted a number of bias policing allegations, the OIG itself did not identify a single allegation out of the 888 they reviewed that they believe should have been substantiated on the basis of the available evidence – underscoring the difficulty in proving these allegations. Even with the positive changes already made, and the full context of this report, the NYPD knows there is more to do. The Department will continue to work with fellow agencies to improve its efforts in line with many of the recommendations contained in the Report. For example, NYPD will continue to work with CCRB to establish a mediation program for biased policing complaints handled by NYPD. 

The NYPD has initiated a number of significant changes over the past five years to create greater trust, build mutual respect, and strengthen coordination between the police and neighborhoods we serve -- and that essential work continues."

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