A pair of NYPD unions are suing the Civilian Complaint Review Board — again — after the watchdog expanded its power to investigate cops for sexual abuse and lying, according to new court papers.
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday, comes three years after the board first tried to probe police for sexual misconduct but was stalled by another legal battle with the unions.
At the heart of the latest challenge — brought by the two largest police unions, the Police Benevolent Association and Sergeants Benevolent Association — is a February rule change that broadened the abuse of authority charge that’s investigated by the CCRB.
The agency can now probe police for sexual misconduct and intentionally untruthful testimony.
But the unions claim the CCRB violated the state’s public meetings laws and “hastily” adopted the rule change.
The suit seeks to strike the new rules from the books because it claims the agency “purposefully concealed its deliberations in order to rush the rules into passage” and already “pre-determined to adopt the rules irrespective of any comments received.”
“Complaints of sexual misconduct and complaints of false official statements are not
within CCRB’s jurisdiction,” the suit reads. “Nobody disputes that these are serious matters that must be properly addressed in those rare instances when they occur, but there are existing bodies in New York City with decades-long experience handling these matters.”
CCRB Chair Fred Davie said it was “indisputable” that sex abuse and lying fall under abuse of authority charge and called the unions’ challenge “disheartening.”
“There is nothing ‘pro-police’ about shielding officers accused of sexual misconduct or providing false statements from independent investigation, and I urge the unions and their membership to consider what kind of message this action sends to the people of New York City,” Davie said.
Previously, any complaints received by the CCRB of lying or sex abuse would be referred to the NYPD to be handled internally.
Hours after the suit was filed, the CCRB Executive Director Jonathan Darche said at the agency’s monthly meeting that investigators would begin probing all sexual misconduct starting June 1.
“Sexual misconduct is among the most serious misconduct committed by police officers,” Darche said Wednesday night. “Now, we have a group of senior investigators who have completed intensive training in trauma-informed interviewing … we will be able to adequately help victims dealing with specific traumas and connect them to city services.”
The PBA said it will fight the CCRB on these changes “as many times as we need to, because our members need to be able to do their jobs safely and effectively.”
“CCRB had proved once again that it will bend every rule and defy every safeguard in its quest to hijack and dismantle the NYPD,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said.
The suit accuses the CCRB of violating public meetings laws, however, it’s not clear the board broke any mandates.
The watchdog announced the proposed rule change last November and held a meeting in January to hear public comment. The change approved a month later — three years after the unions first sued to stop the expansion of the board’s power.
In 2019, an appeals court ruled that the CCRB could not investigate the alleged abuses with the power from a board resolution but instead would have to change the agency’s rules.
The SBA did not respond for comment.