New York, NY – The New York Police Department (NYPD) is facing criticism from a city watchdog after it was unable to validate any of the 2,500 bias complaints that the police department received between 2014 and 2017.
The city’s entity that provides oversight for the police department determined if the police department can't substantiate complaints, then there are issues with their process.
They released a report on Wednesday that said it had reviewed 888 of the biased policing complaints and found problems with the way NYPD handled them, CBS News reported.
The Department of Investigation’s Office of the Inspector General for the New York City Police Department’s 61-page report noted that out of at least 2,495 reports of biased policing, NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau had failed to substantiate a single complaint.
“Biased policing, actual or perceived, undermines the core value of equal treatment under the law and also poses a threat to public safety because racial profiling and other types of biased policing undermine the public's confidence and trust in law enforcement,” Inspector General Philip K. Eure said in a press release to announce the findings. “NYPD must ensure that these complaints are thoroughly investigated and tracked. In addition, the independent CCRB [Civilian Complaint Review Board] should expand its authority to investigate biased policing complaints filed with that agency.”
During its investigation, the inspector general’s office reviewed more than 5,000 documents, attended NYPD trainings related to biased policing, and interviewed the investigators who ran the investigations, according to the report.
What they learned was that incidents of “biased policing” were not substantiated by NYPD investigators if the person complaining about the bias wasn't taken into custody.
Complaints of officers using racial slurs were referred to the CCRB for investigation as offensive language, but weren't considered biased policing if the officer didn't take police action against the complainant.
The inspector general’s office’s research also determined that not all of the NYPD investigators tasked with examining the complaints of biased policing received the training on how to investigate the complaints they were reviewing, according to the report.
But the NYPD has pushed back and said the data in the report has numerous flaws.
NYPD said that the complaints noted in the report represented less than .001 percent of the millions of annual officer interactions with the public, CBS News reported.
The department also said that the number of complaints of biased policing had dropped dramatically from the first six months of 2018 to the first half of 2019.
NYPD also pointed out that of the complaints that were referred to the CCRB, the board substantiated 49 incidences of the use of racial slurs that resulted in penalties imposed against officers that included losing up to 30 days of vacation time, according to CBS News.
The report made 23 recommendations for improving the investigative process for complaints of biased policing.
The recommendations included amending the NYPD Patrol Guide to classify the use of offensive language as biased policing, developing a mediation pilot program for some biased policing complaints, and publishing the statistics of the complaints in a biased policing annual report.
“Establishing effective and fair processes for the investigation of biased policing allegations is a fundamental component of the Police Department’s relationship with the public, helping to build trust and confidence,” Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett said in a statement.
The report also recommended that all biased policing complaints should be sent to the CCRB under its “Abuse of Authority” jurisdiction, and taken out of the hands of NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, something that has become standard procedure for police departments in many other major cities.
The inspector general’s recommendation that everything be referred to the CCRB for investigation met with pushback from that entity.
CCRB Chairman Fred Davie said that in order for the review board to take on all the biased policing complaints, they would need more funding and a specialized staff, CBS News reported.