An analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union of data released last week by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board shows a dramatic increase in the number of substantiated cases of officer abuse in the last three years and that the NYPD rarely imposes serious discipline on officers for their misconduct. The analysis, which was contained in a letter the NYCLU sent to the CCRB last night, also shows that the CCRB is recommending serious discipline of officers in far fewer cases than in years past.
“The big increase in substantiated cases of police misconduct, coupled with the persistent lack of any serious discipline by the NYPD, are clear warning signs that much remains to be done in New York City when it comes to police reform,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director, Christopher Dunn, who conducted the NYCLU’s analysis. “If the CCRB and NYPD actually care about police misconduct, they need to be much more aggressive with those officers who abuse civilians.”
The NYCLU’s analysis shows that the number of substantiated cases of NYPD misconduct have gone up dramatically over the last three years. Between 2014 and 2016, under the de Blasio administration, the CCRB found misconduct in 1179 cases, an increase of 82 percent from the 648 substantiated cases during the previous three-year period. Such a dramatic increase in substantiated misconduct “raises the prospect of a jump in actual police misconduct and requires close attention,” the NYCLU indicates in its letter, notwithstanding any improvements in video evidence or CCRB investigations that may have also contributed to the shift.
The analysis also indicates that very few officers found to have abused New Yorkers were punished. Of the 518 officers who were disciplined, none was fired and only 4 percent (20 officers) were suspended or lost vacation for more than 10 days. While the NCYLU’s letter recognizes that the CCRB can’t make final decisions on whether an officer is disciplined, it urges the agency to play a more active role in arguing for tougher punishments.
The CCRB also recommended discipline in far fewer cases than in years past. In 2011, for example, the CCRB recommended charges – the most serious form of discipline -- in 68 percent of substantiated cases, compared to just 12 percent in 2016. And the CCRB continues to close and dismiss most of its cases without completing an investigation.
The NYCLU’s letter calls on the CCRB to discuss the NYCLU’s concerns at its public meeting next month.