New York Daily News

Upd.: April 14, 2016, 12:56 AM

  

 

Richard Emery: A watchdog’s bark and bite 

BY EDITORIALS

 
SAM COSTANZA/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS  
CCRB chairman Richard Emery abruptly stepped down from his position Wednesday.      

Richard Emery no longer chairs the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, his necessary resignation accepted by Mayor de Blasio despite strides made toward restoring the frayed police oversight body to health.

Emery’s time was up because he tripped up too many times on a temperament ill-matched to the rectitude demanded of an authority empowered to discipline police for misconduct.

“I don’t know why everyone is acting like a bunch of p---ies” went one choice phrase, according to CCRB Executive Director Mina Malik and her female deputy in a newly filed federal lawsuit alleging retaliation after Malik filed a civil rights complaint about the remark.

The new lawsuit joins one filed by the previous executive director, who says she was fired after complaining to Emery of sexual harassment by a board member.

Emery earlier dismissed pushback from police unions as their “squealing like a stuck pig” — unacceptably sloppy words at best coming from a supposedly neutral arbiter of police officers’ fates.

This from a man who rightly wrote in these pages in Sept. 2014 that “Clarifying what is acceptable police behavior is the core challenge for effective civilian oversight.”

Then came the revelations that Emery’s private law firm represents a slew of clients who’ve sued the NYPD for misconduct, forcing the chair into the awkward position of putting a firewall between a public job and his private paychecks.

Words mattered, and fairness mattered, because de Blasio had charged Emery with turning around a complaint board of damaged credibility, seen by police as out to get cops and by complainants as too often toothless.

By the account of NYPD court-appointed overseer Peter Zimroth, Emery had made progress, speeding up cases and whittling down backlogs.

To a point, Emery’s ambition served the public well — most significantly in a 2014 report reviewing instances of the NYPD’s use of chokeholds. It revealed that both the police and CCRB had grown too lax in enforcing an existing ban — a perhaps fatal factor in the death of Eric Garner.

But at times Emery appeared to be competing in an ego race against the new NYPD inspector general for headlines — and perhaps, to heed his executive directors’ legal complaints, for control of the day-to-day investigations they oversaw.

New York should thank Emery for his service, learn from his shortcomings and swiftly find someone suited to advance the important work begun.