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Report: Police Abuse: The Need for Civilian Investigation and Oversight (1990)

Police Abuse The Need for Civilian Investigation and Oversight-1

In August, 1988, the Lower East Side of Manhattan was rocked by one of the most shocking outbursts of police violence in New York City’s history. Fifty-two civilians, the great majority of them innocent bystanders, required medical attention as a result of scores of assaults, often by groups of police officers, over a period of six hours. Community leaders and the New York Civil Liberties Union demanded a full-scale investigation of the police attack. Initially, Mayor Edward Koch and Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward defended the police officers, but confronted with videotapes of the events, they too decried the police violence and promised an investigation. What came out of this experience was a renewal of concern on the part of the NYCLU about police brutality beyond the Tompkins Square incident. That led to the publication of this report, released in June 1990, which calls for a powerful, civilian-controlled review process.

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