By: Denis Cyr
Propublica has obtained records of civilian complaints against the NYPD.
The liberal research group ProPublica, on Sunday released a massive trove of NYPD disciplinary records obtained following the recent repeal of a state law keeping them under wraps, NY Post reported.
NYPD unions have argued in part that the releases could tarnish cops’ reputation.
ProPublica reported: until last month, New York state prohibited the release of police officers’ disciplinary records. Civilians’ complaints of abuse by officers were a secret. So were investigators’ conclusions. The public could not even know if an officer was punished.
The records of the civilian complaint board became a hot button topic after the Eric Garner death in 2014, when it was revealed the officer responsible for Garner’s death had a record of misconduct.
Soon after the death of George Floyd, , ProPublica asked New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, or CCRB, for a list of officers, along with the complaints against them, and what discipline, if any, had been recommended.
NY Post reported in summary:
The database includes all allegations filed against cops fitting the bill, substantiated or otherwise, spanning Sept. 1985 through Jan. 2020.
They are further broken down into four categories: “Abuse of Authority” (totaling 20,292 allegations), “Force” (7,636), “Discourtesy” (4.677) and “Offensive Language” (753).
ProPublica number-crunchers found that some 34 officers in the database have faced 40 or more allegations, while 303 have had five or more substantiated allegations, yet stayed on the job.
There were about 3,200 allegations listed as unfounded in the data we were provided, about 9% of the total. Propublica excluded most unsubstantiated reports, the remaining ones in the database come from officers with multiple complaints.
Propublica created a searchable data base, which you can link to from their site.
“We understand the arguments against releasing this data. But we believe the public good it could do outweighs the potential harm,” said Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica’s editor in chief. “The database gives the people of New York City a glimpse at how allegations involving police misconduct have been handled and allows journalists and ordinary citizens alike to look more deeply at the records of particular officers.
The CCRB receives thousands of complaints every year, but it is only able to substantiate a tiny fraction of them. In 2018, the agency examined about 3,000 allegations of misuse of force. It substantiated 73, Propublica explained.
Propublica also reported: Unions for city police officers, firefighters and corrections officers have sued New York City to stop the disclosure of most of these and other disciplinary records. The unions objected to the release of any cases other than “proven and final disciplinary matters.” That would exclude the vast majority of complaints against officers.
“We are defending privacy, integrity and the unsullied reputations of thousands of hard-working public safety employees,” a union spokesman said on the filing of the lawsuit.