November 5, 2004 Raymond Kelly Commissioner New York City Police Department 1 Police Plaza New York, N.Y. 10038 Re: NYPD Re-Investigation of Substantiated CCRB Complaints Arising Out of Republican National Convention Dear Commissioner Kelly: On behalf of the New York Civil Liberties Union, we write in response to the story in this week’s Chief-Leader reporting that the Department has established a special internal panel to re-investigate substantiated cases referred by the CCRB arising out of investigations of alleged police misconduct during the Republican National Convention. To the extent this story is accurate, we call upon the Department to abolish this panel and to handle any substantiated Convention complaints in the same manner that other complaints are handled. As you may be aware, the Department used to have a standard practice of re-investigating complaints substantiated by the CCRB. The NYCLU and others objected to this practice because it undermined the concept of civilian review, increased the likelihood that valid complaints would not survive a protracted and non-neutral investigation process, and substantially delayed the initiation of disciplinary proceedings. Given these reasons, we were pleased when the Department ended its re-investigation practice years ago. We therefore are alarmed by the report in this week’s Chief-Leader. If it is true that the Department has created a panel of high-level NYPD officials to re-investigate substantiated complaints arising out of the Convention, that would mark a substantial step backwards in civilian oversight of alleged police misconduct. Police officials, no matter how well-intentioned, cannot objectively investigate police officers, and such a regime is bound to undermine public confidence in the investigation process. Moreover, there is no reason to suggest that the CCRB is excessively substantiating complaints so as to justify NYPD re-investigation of those complaints. Indeed, since the CCRB substantiates only about 7% of all complaints it receives, we have been concerned that valid complaints are not being substantiated by the CCRB. Similarly, there is no reason to suggest that the CCRB was inappropriately soliciting Convention-related complaints. As is it required to do, the Board for years has been informing the public about its complaint procedures, and nothing about its public outreach around the Convention was unusual, much less warranted this dramatic change from prior practice. That the agency received only 59 complaints refutes any suggestion that it was improperly soliciting complaints. If the report in the Chief-Leader is inaccurate, we ask that you inform us of that. Otherwise, we request that you abolish this panel, which we believe sets a dangerous precedent and undermines the goal of independent, civilian-oversight of the Police Department. Sincerely, Christopher Dunn Associate Legal Director Donna Lieberman Executive Director c: Hector Gonzales, Chair, Civilian Complaint Review Board Florence Finkle, Executive Director, Civilian Complaint Review Board John Feinblatt, Criminal Justice Coordinator