PBA President Pat Lynch (Getty Images)
The city’s largest police union hit the Civilian Complaint Review Board with a sweeping lawsuit Tuesday that accuses the agency of making an unprecedented illegal “power grab’’ in its bid to nail cops.
Papers filed by the Police Benevolent Association in Manhattan Supreme Court charge that the CCRB “has unilaterally sought to dramatically expand its jurisdiction and authority,’’ including by recently anointing itself an investigator of “non-criminal” sexual-misconduct allegations against officers, a move that the union calls “gross over-reaching.”
The suit also names Police commissioner James O’Neill as a defendant, alleging the CCRB is investigating matters reserved for the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau under O’Neill’s command.
The PBA cites a “vast overhaul” of CCRB’s rules enshrined in the January publication of it’s Revised Rules — as well as a February resolution allowing it to investigate non-criminal sexual misconduct such as lewd gestures and sexual propositions.
PBA President Pat Lynch called the recent rules changes “a bold-faced power grab to create a CCRB regime that is more abusive to police officers than ever before.”
The union claims that the CCRB is improperly investigating complaints after the statute of limitations has expired, and is opening new complaints based on “unauthenticated” YouTube videos, sometimes without a complainant coming forward.
It also charges the CCRB with investigating matters outside its purview of use civilian complaint review board force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and offensive language — or FADO.
The rules have a “ lasting and serious effects on the targeted police officers,” the suit states.
The number of police-misconduct claims rose to 4,487 in 2017 — the first increase in years — after dropping from 7,660 in 2009 to 4,285 in 2016.
CCRB Executive Director Jonathan Darche has said “more public outreach” in 2016 and 2017 than in the “previous three years [2013, 2014, and 2015] combined” could have led to the increase in reports.
Of the complaints fielded last year, 2,203 were for officers using improper physical force, 911 were for cops refusing to show their shields, 724 were improper stops, and 159 were for cops making racial comments.
Those 3,997 fall under the FADO umbrella, according to information from the agency, but it was not immediately clear what the remaining 490 complaints were for. Of the 3,997, just 140 were substantiated.
The CCRB said it does not comment on pending litigation, and referred inquiries to the Law Department, which said it will “review the complaint and respond accordingly.”
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.