Chief-Leader
March 18, 2013

 

CCRB Ready to Handle Police Discipline Cases

Kelly Still Has Final Say

By MARK TOOR

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Judge provided justice.    
PATRICK J. LYNCH: A waste of time, money.  

Although the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has registered its disapproval, the agreement worked out between the Police Department and the Civilian Complaint Review Board to have CCRB attorneys prosecute some administrative charges against officers in the NYPD trial room goes into effect April 11.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies leaves the Police Commissioner in complete control of the disciplinary process, although it requires him to explain certain decisions.

The CCRB will review cases filed on or after April 15, spokeswoman Linda Sachs said in an interview last week.

What It Will Cover

Under its charter, CCRB handles all complaints involving excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy or offensive language (the agency uses the acronym FADO to designate its area of concern).

The agency will investigate these complaints and, where a panel of board members finds a complaint substantiated and recommends charges and specifications, have its attorneys prosecute the case in the trial room. Previously, such cases had been handled by the NYPD Department Advocate’s Office.

“The Department Advocate will still be prosecuting lots of other stuff like corruption, downgrading crime reports or other misbehavior,” Ms. Sachs said.

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch expressed opposition to the agreement. “In a time of increasing demands for limited government resources, this is another nonsensical program that is simply wasteful and unnecessary,” he said. “Instead of using existing NYPD employees who have performed the function for decades, there will now be newly-hired CCRB personnel who will present these very same cases before the very same hearing officers.

‘Draining Resources’

“By inserting newly-hired CCRB personnel into the process,” he continued, “we have ensured that a situation that didn’t need fixing will be supplanted by a new bureaucracy, further draining resources from areas where they are most needed—a prime example being the NYPD, which has been left dangerously depleted with 7,000 fewer officers.”

The department hit a high of nearly 41,000 uniformed personnel in 2001, partly because of the Safe Streets, Safe City initiative that added 10,000 officers between 1992 and 1995 and levied a special tax to pay for them.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Police Department and the CCRB allows the Police Commissioner to accept, reject or modify the recommendation of an NYPD Trials Commissioner in a CCRB case, as he can in any case prosecuted by the Department Advocate. He may also reject any plea-bargain reached between an officer and CCRB attorneys.

If the Commissioner rejects a penalty proposed in a CCRB case or selects a lesser one, he must inform the agency in writing with “a detailed explanation of the reasons for deviating from CCRB’s recommendation including, but not limited to, each factor the Police Commissioner considered in making his decision.” The CCRB can submit a rebuttal, but the final authority remains with the Commissioner.

Can Request It Refrain

The Commissioner may ask the CCRB not to proceed with a prosecution if he determines it “would be detrimental to the department’s disciplinary process.” In any such instance, he shall give the CCRB, in writing, “a detailed explanation for such request and a statement detailing what discipline if any the Police Commissioner would pursue.”

The CCRB can submit arguments for allowing it to keep the case, but as with the penalties, if the Commissioner rejects its rebuttal, that’s the end of the prosecution.

In cases where a prosecution must be expedited because of an officer’s impending retirement or promotion, the CCRB must either meet the quicker time frame or turn the case over to the Department Advocate.

Ms. Sachs said the CCRB has added 10 attorneys to join a chief and deputy chief in prosecuting cases in the trial room.