New York Police Department officials are upset over the passage of a ballot measure that gives a civilian oversight watchdog more authority to investigate police officers who lie during investigations into police brutality, corruption and misconduct.
“Today the NYPD was stabbed in the back by the very same people we swore to protect,” Sergeant Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said, according to the New York Post. “With bail reform taking effect in January of 2020 and the passing of CCRB’s [Civilian Complaint Review Board’s] political power grab, New Yorkers can only expect the NYPD to provide paralyzed policing on city streets.”
If you don’t understand what that means, allow me to explain:
Police officers will kill you.
They do other things, too. They breakdance. They give away boots. They stop. They frisk. They make our neighborhoods safer by punching teenagers who try to steal $2.75 subway rides. You know…police shit.
But they will also kill you.
And then lie about it.
So, on Tuesday, New York City voters passed Amendment 2, amending the city constitution’s rules governing the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Although the measure falls short of giving the board any substantial measure of punitive power or legal authority, police leaders are still upset because, apparently, before Tuesday, there was nothing that stopped officers from lying to investigators and disregarding the instructions of the constitutionally-sanctioned committee.
CCRB is an “impartial agency that has been independent of the police department since 1993.” It is composed of nonpolice investigators who review complaints against police and conduct investigations in cases of unnecessary or excessive force, abuse of authority or discourtesy. In theory, it is more effective to have people outside the police department oversee these kinds of allegations, but while the CCRB is a good idea, it can’t really do shit because the review board is essentially toothless.
I know this next part might seem stupid (because it definitely is stupid), but while the CCRB can investigate, prosecute and recommend punishment for an abusive or violent police officer, the police commissioner has the authority to just ignore the CCRB’s recommendations altogether.
For instance, Daniel Pantaleo, the officer whose arm just happened to be around Eric Garner’s neck when he apparently chose to stop breathing, had received 14 complaints against him and seven disciplinary complaints and had never served a day’s suspension when he “overhugged” Eric Garner. The NYPD finally disciplined Pantaleo by—goddamn these motherfuckers are evil—docking him two days’ vacation time on March 15, 2015.
Eric Garner had been dead 237 days.
Furthermore, when a cop was accused of racism, bias or brutality, all he had to do is lie or say: “I didn’t do it.” Even if the CCRB knew the officer was lying, the review board had no power to hold police accountable. In fact, of 2,495 civilian complaints of NYPD officers’ bias or racism, every single one went unpunished.
The recently passed proposal expands the CCRB’s membership from 13 to 15, grants the board subpoena powers and allows the CCRB to “investigate the truthfulness of any material statement that is made within the course of the CCRB’s investigation.” The amendment also requires the police commissioner to provide a written explanation when he or she intends to depart from CCRB recommendations by the CCRB.
And that’s why the NYPD is mad.
To be clear, the cops can still tell the same lies. The CCRB will just investigate the lies now and make them part of the official record. And the police commissioner can still ignore the CCRB’s disciplinary recommendation, he just has to write a note explaining why he gave a cop a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Poor them. I’m crying so hard for the NYPD…
I almost can’t breathe.