February 26, 2016, 4:10 AM
|Chairman and private attorney||SUSAN WATTS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS|
The credibility of the Civilian Complaint Review Board has been eroded thanks to the self-righteousness of the mayor and the board’s chairman — and the purring of City Hall’s pet Conflicts of Interest Board.
When Mayor de Blasio chose veteran civil-rights lawyer Richard Emery to head the CCRB, there was little doubt that Emery would inject life into a long-incompetent, long-ineffective agency. And he has done so.
But, from the start, cops had reason for wariness because Emery’s law firm wages suits that allege police misconduct. Bad actions by the NYPD brought — and still bring — Emery income while he serves in the part-time post of CCRB chairman.
Regardless, conflicts board chief Richard Briffault meowed that de Blasio could appoint Emery provided that he close his eyes, muffle his ears and zip his lip about any case that involved both his firm and the CCRB.
Although Briffault’s board makes sport of driving sanitation workers out of their jobs for accepting $10 gifts, the panel blessed Emery’s ability to share in handsome revenue from suits for cop misconduct, even if the CCRB had substantiated the allegations in the suits.
Up on their own moral pedestals, de Blasio and Emery lost sight of the basic premise that no judge can seem to be related in any way to money.
Highhandedly defending his law firm’s business, Emery responded Wednesday to police union calls for a cop boycott of the CCRB by saying in a Daily News interview:
“I’m not going to deprive the public and the people who are abused by police officers of having access to excellent lawyers because some union is squealing like a stuck pig.”
Using the term “pig,” even inartfully, in relation to cops when you play the role of punishing police misconduct is close to a fireable offense.
Gov. Cuomo said as much Thursday. Emery then acknowledged “a poor choice of words,” yet could not resist qualifying an apology with the phrase “to the extent that anyone was offended.” De Blasio was more forthright in calling Emery’s statement insensitive and inappropriate.
More important — and left unaddressed by de Blasio — Emery was equally grudging in saying that his firm would no longer take a case involving a cop if Emery personally had rendered judgment on the cop at the CCRB.
But Emery will share in revenue from suits that involve cops whose cases were handled by other CCRB members. As long as Emery stays on that pad, cops, already very distrustful, will have more reasons for believing they won’t get a fair shake.