New York Daily News

October 2, 2015, 4:10 AM

  

 

Editorial

Excessive farce: No, inspector general, the NYPD is not out of control

BY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, GREG B. SMITH

JB NICHOLAS/JB NICHOLAS FOR THE NY DAILY NEWS
Confidence, men

An inspector general’s report issued Thursday on the use of force by the NYPD creates the damaging and misleading impression cops are running wild with impunity.

Prevailing wisdom now holds that the department, as well as police agencies across the country, should report every use of force by officers in the lawful execution of their duties.

Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters and Inspector General Philip Eure support the premise. So does Commissioner Bill Bratton. Since more information is almost universally better than less, we’ll get with the program.

But, although they are chief advocates for NYPD “reform,” Peters and Eure offer not a hint as to how to define force.

Does slapping on handcuffs constitute force? In an interview they thought not. Huh?

Most disturbing, the Peters-Eure report implicitly suggests the NYPD must report every use of force in order to stop cops from using excessive force, as if excessive force is epidemic.

The heart of the report focuses on 179 cases in which the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated charges that officers had gone over the line. Let’s all agree: the cops did wrong.

Now, let’s place the cases into context. They cover a five-year period, so they happened at an average rate of 36 a year. Let’s agree again: 36 is too many, but it doesn’t indicate rampant abuses.

Let’s go further and consider how many cops were involved in the 179 cases.

The report does not directly say, although if you tote up some figures in a chart, the total comes out to 190, an average of 38 a year, roughly one one-thousandth of the Finest.

Peters and Eure fail to mention whether CCRB excessive force complaints are rising or falling.

In fact, they are down 22% this year over last. You can be sure the authors would have cited a 22% rise as evidence that NYPD needs reform, a key to which would be recording every instance in which cops use force, lawfully or not.

Also to be recognized is that in 2014, NYPD cops fired their guns the fewest times since 1971.

Among their other findings, Peters and Eure concluded Commissioners Bratton and Ray Kelly had failed to discipline cops when “no reasonable person” could say the officers had not used excessive force. We’re skeptical, while noting that they’re looking at a grand total of three cases under the current commissioner’s watch.

Peter’s and Eure’s handiwork is a lawyerly piece of work laden with enough fine-print caveats for them to feign objectivity. But Eure gave away the game by saying at a press conference that the “NYPD was living a bit in the Dark Ages” on data collection.

Bratton demanded an apology. Tellingly, Eure let the remark stand.