NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s a new call today for more transparency when it comes to how the NYPD disciplines its officers.
This comes after the New York Daily News published examples of penalties officers have faced that may not fit the violation.
The Daily News reports an NYPD captain was fined 65 vacation days and dismissal for ordering two officers to run an errand for him. Another officer had 7 vacation days taken away from him for stopping and frisking without legal authority.
“This is something we dealt with at DOI on a regular basis,” said Mark Peters. He’s an urban affairs expert and former Department of Investigation commissioner. “In 2015, the Department of Investigation found that the NYPD was failing to discipline officers who used excessive force. Last year the DOI found it was still a problem.”
Web Extra: Mark Peters On NYPD Discipline
“When I came into office, what I heard from a lot of police officers was that they felt there was a very arbitrary process. That punishment was meted out in ways that weren’t consistent,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
When an officer faces discipline, it goes before an NYPD trial judge and the police commissioner imposes the final penalties, which can be based on factors such as the officer’s personnel record, length of service and training. When it comes the the perceived inconsistencies, the NYPD and mayor say that was then and this is now, reported CBS2’s Alice Gainer.
“I think the blue ribbon panel really focused on was creating transparent, consistent standards that then were applied very evenly. That’s what we’re in the process of doing now,” de Blasio said.
Back in 2018, NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill appointed an independent panel to look at the department’s discipline system. After a seven month review, the panel published its findings in January.
WEB EXTRA: Read the independent panel’s report (.pdf)
“There is a fundamental and pervasive lack of transparency,” the panel found, namely because New York state law prohibits the release of personnel records. That means we don’t see discipline records. But it also said “the panel emphasizes that it did not find that the commissioner abuses his discretion.”
It also “did not identify favoritism.”
The NYPD accepted all the recommendations made, and, back in April, posted a 60 day update on its website of the changes implemented so far. Click here to read the update. Some of the changes include supporting amendments to the law so that the NYPD can publicly disclose discipline information, publishing trial room calendars and stronger domestic violence penalties.
Other recommendations: Having the police commissioner write down his reason for punishment decisions and studying and considering a disciplinary matrix, which the NYPD says it’s doing alongside the city’s independent police watchdog.
The NYPD adds that the cases cited by the Daily News all happened before the independent panel issued its report.
“A fair and consistent discipline system is key to building trust with the community. That’s why last year Police Commissioner James O’Neill called together an independent panel of respected law enforcement experts to conduct an exhaustive review of NYPD discipline policies, and make recommendations to strengthen them. The Commissioner accepted each of the recommendations made, and several have already been implemented. In accordance with the panel’s recommendation, the NYPD in partnership with the CCRB is currently examining how a discipline matrix that would enumerate presumptive penalties for offenses could be created,” the NYPD said in a statement.