Here’s a bit of good news. In a police department that is rife with misconduct and corruption — NYPD — the civilian review board that oversees complaints against officers will now have the ability to prosecute them for violating the law.
The civilian board that reviews complaints of NYPD misconduct will get the power to prosecute those allegations in departmental trials — except in certain cases, officials said Tuesday.
Currently, the Civilian Complaint Review Board investigates complaints it receives, but refers substantiated cases to the NYPD for prosecution.
The change covers cases ranging from excessive force and abuse of authority to foul language.
The CCRB will prosecute substantiated complaints before NYPD tribunals, and will have the power to plea bargain cases.
“I’ve heard a lot of complaints from New Yorkers that they feel the Civilian Complaint Review Board is a toothless tiger,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. “This gives teeth to the CCRB.”
This doesn’t go nearly far enough — forget tribunals, they should be charged in criminal court like anyone else when they violate the law — but it’s better than the current system. And the penalties should be higher for police officers than for others. The police union is opposed to even those modest reforms:
“Our problem with CCRB has always been first, their predisposition that police officers are always wrong, second, their inexperienced investigators who conduct faulty investigations that arrive at improper conclusions, and now those wrong conclusions will be prosecuted at these kangaroo trials.”
Which sounds like a great reason to go all the way and have such trials in criminal courts instead of police tribunals. But even that is just a start. The problem is that the only experienced investigators are other cops, who are very reluctant to go against another officer. And prosecutors certainly aren’t much more likely to do it.