4 Ways to File Complaints against NYPD misconduct & brutality

UPDATE March 11, 2013:  See the link to this news article: Civilian Power Rises on Police Review Board. See below for the news coverage.

In response to NYPD brutality against OWS (Occupy Wall Street) protesters as captured on video or personally witnessed by self, you can file complaints with the NYC Civilian Complaints Review Board (CCRB) against police misconduct. 4 ways to file your complaints against NYPD police misconduct:

  1. CALL the CCRB Hotline 24 hours a day: 1-800-341-CCRB (2272),
  2. FILE ONLINE using Online Complaint Forms https://www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb/html/complaint.html
  3. WRITE A LETTER to the CCRB at 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006 ,
  4. FILE COMPLAINT IN-PERSON at 40 Rector Street, 2nd Fl. New York, NY 10006 - Office Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm.

March 10, 2013, 10:10 p.m. ET

Civilian Power Rises on Police Review Board

By TAMER EL-GHOBASHY

NY-CF446_NYCCRB_NS_20130310163903

An agreement under which civilian attorneys will prosecute internal charges against New York City police officers accused of some types of misconduct takes effect Tuesday, marking a shift in the handling of the most common accusations of abuse.

Those charges, stemming from issues brought before the Civilian Complaint Review Board, are now prosecuted by New York Police Department lawyers.

The agreement has been hailed as holding the police force more accountable and strengthening the public’s faith in the complaint-review board. That agency, while independent of the NYPD, historically has been viewed as toothless as it struggled with a lack of resources.

Criticism also has greeted the change, agreed to in March 2012 by the City Council, mayor’s office and the NYPD. In a statement, Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch characterized the program as “nonsensical.”

With new responsibilities in the offing, the complaint-review board has set up a $1.6 million Administrative Prosecution Unit. It will have a staff of 20, including 12 prosecutors. Linda Sachs, a board spokeswoman, said those lawyers include nine who have worked as assistant district attorneys and one who worked in the city’s Law Department.

The new complaint-review process rules will be published Tuesday in the official City Record, paving the way for board work to begin within 30 days.

Despite the bigger role the review board’s attorneys now will play, the NYPD commissioner retains authority to accept or reject the disposition of the administrative trials and what final punishment—if any—would be imposed.

The new rules, however, have added a layer of transparency to the commissioner’s role.

The commissioner can prevent a prosecution in instances where “there are parallel or related criminal investigations” or if an officer hasn’t been the subject of a previous complaint before the review board or doesn’t have a disciplinary record, according to the agreement.

But in such cases, the commissioner now would be required to submit his reasoning in writing to the review board—and the board would be given an opportunity to make a rebuttal. A letter to the review board also would be required if the commissioner intended to impose discipline on a guilty officer that is less severe than that recommended by the board or the trial commissioner.

The review board handles complaints from the public of excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and offensive language. Such allegations can range from an officer pointing a gun at a person to using offensive language during a stop.

“This is something that Commissioner [Raymond] Kelly has been supportive of in cooperation with the CCRB,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said of the new arrangement.

Daniel Chu, the review board chairman, said through a spokeswoman that the agency has “assembled a great team of attorneys and we’re eager to…take on our newest responsibility.”

Mr. Lynch’s statement, however, said, “By inserting newly hired CCRB personnel into the process, we have ensured that a situation that didn’t need fixing will be supplanted by a new bureaucracy further draining resources from areas where they are most needed.”

The new Administrative Prosecution Unit will be led by Laura Edidin, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, said Ms. Sachs. Her deputy will be Jonathan Darche, a former assistant district attorney in Queens.

The unit’s work stems from a 2011 pilot version of the initiative that handled three cases before its funding was cut. Ms. Edidin was the first civilian lawyer to handle a trial in the pilot.

In addition to increasing public confidence in the process, review-board officials believe having civilian attorneys encourages alleged victims of police misconduct and witnesses to be more cooperative and responsive than with lawyers attached to the agency they are accusing. This was evident during the trials the board prosecuted in the pilot program, the officials said.

The new unit’s work will focus on the most severe allegations among the cases substantiated by review-board probes. A case is considered substantiated when “there is credible evidence to believe that the subject officer committed the act charged,” the agency said.

Leveling charges and recommending an administrative trial is the toughest action the complaint board can take.

In 2012, the complaint-review board substantiated 189 complaints against 265 officers, Ms. Sachs said. Of those, charges were recommended for 181 officers. The dispositions of those cases weren’t available because a majority remained in the process of prosecution, plea negotiations or review. The rest were recommended for lesser discipline, except for one where there was no recommendation.

A total of 21 officers were prosecuted at disciplinary trials in 2012, some of which were carried over from charges leveled in previous years, Ms. Sachs said.

The change comes at a time when police tactics, such as stop-and-frisk, have faced increased scrutiny and legal challenges. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, from July 1 to Oct. 31, 2012, complaints filed to the board rose 17% compared with the same period in 2011, according to the mayor’s office.

Citizens Union, a government-transparency advocacy group, issued a report in 2012 that said between 2002 and 2010, the complaint board recommended that 2,078 officers be charged for substantiated misconduct—but fewer than 8% were charged.

Write to                 Tamer El-Ghobashy at tamer.el-ghobashy@wsj.com

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Filed under NYPD, Occupy Wall Street, OccupyWallStreet, OWS

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