December 2, 2014

PBA: Legal Aid Database Soiling Cops’ Reputations

Guilty by Accusation?


PATRICK J. LYNCH: Bristles at methodology.  

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch last week blasted the Legal Aid Society for creating a database of officers accused of misconduct, saying it “does nothing more than soil the reputation” of cops.

The Cop Accountability Program will collect the information about supposedly troubled officers and share it with attorneys, according to the Daily News, which was the first to report the program.

Piling up Entries

Cynthia Conti-Cook, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society who is in charge of the project, told the News that CAP already has 2,750 entries into its database, including lawsuits, judicial rulings, and Civilian Complaint Review Board files.

Mr. Lynch said: “Compiling a list of police officers who are alleged to be ‘bad’ based upon newspaper stories, quick-buck lawsuits and baseless complaints—many of which are lodged in revenge by criminals seeking to punish an arresting officer—does nothing more than soil the reputation of the men and women who do the difficult and dangerous job of keeping this city and its citizens safe. 

“Where is the database of the thousands of police interactions each day that save lives, take guns and drugs off the streets, prevent terrorist acts and demonstrate the concern and caring of our officers? New York City police officers have always supported this city; when will this city support them?”

The Legal Aid Society did not respond to a call for comment the day after Thanksgiving.

Video Hurts Credibility

Tina Luongo, an attorney-in-charge at Legal Aid, told the News that CAP comes at a time when New Yorkers are less likely to believe that most allegations against police are frivolous. “The general public isn’t buying that anymore,” she said. “You can make that claim all you want when there is no transparency, but you can’t when the video [goes online].”, a civil-rights and criminal-defense blog, wrote that CAPS “is great news for both criminal-defense and civil-rights practitioners, who rely on this sort of information to overcome built-in bias and help persuade jurors, judges and adversaries that police misconduct has indeed occurred.”