In testimony before the City Council today, the New York Civil Liberties Union urged Council members to provide the Civilian Complaint Review Board with adequate funding and to hold it accountable for recent lapses in its performance.
The NYCLU decried Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to cut CCRB funding by $1.2 million, eliminating 24 investigator positions, and urged the City Council to restore the CCRB's funding and to demand cooperation from the NYPD and other agencies involved in the Civilian Review process.
"We are concerned that the New York City Police Department is making concerted efforts to undermine the effectiveness and independence of the CCRB, and that the CCRB is acquiescing in those efforts," said Chris Dunn, NYCLU Associate Legal Director, to the Council.
Dunn also reminded the Council that the number of complaints submitted to the CCRB is increasing, and she urged the Council to assure that the board is fully funded and that that funding produces effective and independent oversight.
The NYCLU was instrumental in the creation of the independent CCRB in 2002, and has been an outspoken advocate for a vigorous and independent civilian review system. As part of this effort, the NYCLU has fought CCRB budget cuts year after year and has been highly critical of NYPD efforts to undermine the CCRB's work.
The NYCLU also expressed concern about several other aspects of the mayor's budget and the NYPD's funding scheme, including plans to spend $9.1 million in Federal Homeland Security Grants to install 505 city-operated surveillance cameras in 253 locations in New York City.
"We're all in favor of keeping tabs on people suspected of unlawful activity, but the police should not be scrutinizing law-abiding New Yorkers' activities without regulation," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. "We cannot use this federal funding as license to erase the line between legitimate law enforcement and indiscriminate surveillance. Instead we must see it as an opportunity for City Council to pass legislation that will put in place a regulatory scheme to govern the use of surveillance cameras."
Click here to read the NYCLU's testimony.