From the department of fairly big deals, the Police Department has finally agreed to allow the Civilian Complaint Review Board to prosecute all police officers against whom a complaint has been substantiated.
The agreement among City Hall, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the CCRB comes following well over a decade of debate, and NYPD stubborn resistance to allowing outside agencies into its often opaque disciplinary system.
Now, when the CCRB substantiates, or finds a complaint credible, and votes to file departmental charges against the officer, its own prosecutors, rather than NYPD prosecutors, will pursue the case in the trial room at police headquarters.
“This agreement is a milestone in the history of civilian police oversight in New York City. Public confidence in the disciplinary process will be strengthened by having the CCRB, an independent agency, prosecuting these cases,” CCRB Chair Daniel Chu says.
“Today’s agreement builds on the cooperative relationship between the NYPD and CCRB that began with a successful pilot program in the prosecution of substantiated cases,” Police Commissioner Kelly says.
As part of a pilot program, the CCRB prosecuted three of these cases last year. Now, it could handle up to 200 police disciplinary cases a year. The only catch is that the police commissioner still has the right to make a final decision and overturn the departmental judge’s decision, but he will have to provide a written statement when he departs from the verdict.
The CCRB investigates non-criminal complaints for things like excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, and offensive language. For a long time, the agency has been viewed as largely toothless, with many New Yorkers preferring to sue the NYPD rather than subject themselves to what was an endless investigative process. But that perception that could change following the agreement.
This is chiefly because in the past, the act of handing a substantiated case over to the NYPD was one of the main reasons why these cases lingered so long, to the point where a lot of New Yorkers believed their complaints had been ignored.