CCRB Slims Down Prosecution Unit (UPDATE)
November 23rd, 2010
Thanks to a $300,000 budget cut, the Civilian Complaint Review Board will drastically downsize its newly minted prosecution unit — part of a pilot program that allows the board to prosecute cases of police misconduct for the first time.
When first announced in February, the unit was set to have two attorneys, an investigator and a clerical worker. Now that the city faces a $3.3 billion budget deficit next year, the “unit” has been cut down to one attorney, said a board spokesperson. The decrease is part of $1.6 billion in cuts the mayor announced last week.
Despite the obvious setback, the board has pledged to move forward with the experiment.
“One attorney is going to be handling this start up phase,” said Linda Sachs, the board’s spokesperson. “She is a former federal prosecutor, and she is really good.”
While the board currently investigates complaints of police misconduct, it has never had the power to prosecute the claims it substantiates — only the Police Department has. For years, advocates and officials have pushed to bolster the board’s power as, some say, the police fail to prosecute its officers.
Even so, when the city announced the pilot earlier this year some were skeptical, claiming budget cuts could setback the program.
As part of the pilot, the board’s prosecution “unit” will not select cases to prosecute. Selection will be done randomly — one in every five cases set to go to trial will go to the CCRB. It will amount to approximately five cases a year, Sachs said.
UPDATE: The CCRB called in to reiterate its support for the program this morning, contending it will eventually come up with the money to fund it.
“That’s our goal,” sad Sachs. “That’s what we intend to do.”
Last week’s budget cuts, however, are only the first round. The city still has $2.4 billion to cut to balance the budget in the next fiscal year. For all you supporters of the program, you better hope the board is squirreling away money somewhere.By Courtney Gross on November 23, 2010, 3:44 pm
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