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Letter: A Closer Eye on the Police (New York Times)

To the editor:

Kudos to The New York Times for supporting fair hearings in police misconduct cases (“Fair Hearings on Police Misconduct,” editorial, Aug. 11).

To stop the New York City Police Department from ignoring clear cases of officer misconduct, control over the prosecution of these cases must be shifted away from the department to the independent Civilian Complaint Review Board. Even the notoriously pro-police Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani endorsed this idea in 2001, and the New York Civil Liberties Union has called for the same reform for years.

The editorial unduly absolves Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly of responsibility, however. Under his watch, the discipline of officers guilty of misconduct has deteriorated dramatically, and many misconduct cases have been closed without any action whatsoever. This in turn has sent a clear message to officers that they can mistreat New Yorkers and get away with it.

Real reform of police oversight needs to go well beyond a simple shift of prosecutorial responsibility. The police department and Commissioner Kelly have sabotaged independent scrutiny of officer practices, creating an atmosphere in which even the most egregious misconduct goes unpunished — unless, of course, a YouTube video puts the lie to the official truth.

Donna Lieberman
Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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