Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/nypd-inspector-general 2017-12-12T17:57:25+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com City Council Evaluates Progress of NYPD Inspector General 2017-11-15T05:00:00+00:00 2017-11-15T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7325:city-council-examines-progress-under-nypd-inspector-general Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/12290361665_bbcd7ca26d_z.jpg" alt="Mark Peters DOI City Council" width="600" height="414" /></p> <p>DOI Commissioner Mark Peters (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>Four years ago, over the veto of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the City Council passed the Community Safety Act, a landmark piece of legislation relating to policing in New York City. One of the law’s most prominent planks was the creation of the NYPD Inspector General, an independent police department watchdog that would audit NYPD practices and operations and make recommendations on improvements.</p> <p>With the nation on edge over widely disseminated videos of black men being shot by officers and reform activists continuously criticizing the NYPD’s broken windows policing model and the use of stop-and-frisk as racist, the Community Safety Act aimed to increase the department’s accountability to the public and increase the public’s confidence in the department. In 2014, after Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) appointed Philip Eure, the former head of Washington D.C.’s Office of Police Complaints, to be the first NYPD Inspector General.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the City Council’s Committees on Public Safety and Oversight and Investigations held a joint oversight hearing to see how, nearly four years down the line, the NYPD Inspector General is accomplishing its stated goals.</p> <p>The IG’s goals for improving the NYPD were repeated several times throughout the hearing, which saw initial testimony from Eure and his supervisor, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters. Among those doing the questioning were City Council Members Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams, who were the lead sponsors of the Community Safety Act.</p> <p>“The IG’s mission is to enhance the effectiveness of the police department, increase public safety, protect civil liberties and civil rights, and increase the public’s confidence in the police force, thereby building stronger police-community relations,” Eure said at the hearing. “We believe that we have made important strides towards accomplishing all of these goals in the last four years, and we look forward to continuing to build upon that work in the years to come.”</p> <p>Since its first publicly released report in January 2015, concerning police chokeholds, the IG has released nine reports on various NYPD practices that have resulted in some significant policy changes, but have also occasionally resulted in no changes. When the IG releases recommendations, the NYPD is pressured but not required to adopt reforms to operations and practices; if the NYPD refuses to take up a reform voluntarily, the City Council can pass legislation to mandate it.</p> <p>The IG has released reports on NYPD practices such as chokeholds, de-escalation and use of force, quality of life summonses, responding to emotionally disturbed people, body camera use, investigations of political activity, and, most recently, handling of U visa requests for undocumented immigrants who were the victims of a crime.</p> <p>Although the NYPD has often refused to implement recommended policies, some significant reforms have been voluntarily taken up by the department. For instance, the NYPD's Intelligence Bureau has formalized tracking measures for investigations into political activity, particularly with regard to investigative deadlines that were often ignored by the department's investigators.</p> <p>However, in a large number of areas, the NYPD has simply ignored the recommendations of the IG, at times displaying open hostility toward the IG’s office. In January, IG’s office released a report showing that the NYPD is not adequately coordinating Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for officers, crucial when responding to calls involving an emotionally disturbed person (EDP).</p> <p>At Wednesday’s hearing, Council Member Lander asked Eure and Peters what could be done to ensure NYPD compliance with recommendations, highlighting the NYPD’s refusal to streamline and improve its coordination of trained officers responding to the scene of calls regarding EDPs.</p> <p>Peters urged the Council to step up efforts to codify into law certain recommendations that the NYPD refuses to implement.</p> <p>“The NYPD has accepted far more recommendations than they have not,” Peters said. “And that’s great. And then the job for us, the DOI, is to follow up and to make sure that they’re implementing that.”</p> <p>Peters later said that instances where the NYPD refuses to comply are the most crucial places that the IG’s office and the Council must partner.</p> <p>“At the end of the day, that is the place where it’s most important for us to be partnering with the Council,” Peters said. “Because you have that report, we present that report to the mayor, we present that to the Council. And so the Council has the opportunity to read that report if you have questions.”</p> <p>Council Member Williams, who represents the district where an NYPD officer recently shot and killed Dwayne Jeune, an emotionally disturbed man, questioned when a task force would be created to investigate and determine best practices for the NYPD in responding to EDP calls. Four officers responded to the Jeune call; Jeune was killed by the only responding officer who did not receive CIT training.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio initially refused to set up a task force after Jeune’s death in July, but relented after prodding from the Council, according to Williams.</p> <p>Although Eure and Peters had earlier said that they shared reports with the NYPD and City Hall before releasing them to the public in order to glean potentially overlooked facts, Peters said that IG is not involved with the task force.</p> <p>"I think, obviously, it is an important idea. What I would say, the task force is important, but I believe there are already some things that we know need to be done," Peters said.</p> <p>The IG’s office will also soon be releasing its first report related to Williams’ recently passed bill, Intro 119, requiring compilation of litigation data against officers and for the IG to use that to develop recommendations. The IG will be releasing the report in April, which Williams said he looks forward to.</p> <p>Williams proudly proclaimed that things are going well, despite the NYPD and pundits saying that the creation of the NYPD Inspector General would "destroy the city, the sky would literally crack open, and brown and black young people were gonna wreak havoc on this city, and the inspector general in particular was going to confuse all police officers, they would have no idea who to listen to: the inspector general or the commissioner."</p> <p>Crime has continued to fall while the NYPD has adopted some, but not all, of the reforms proposed by the IG. All 23,000 foot patrol officers are scheduled to do their jobs with body cameras on their person by 2019.</p> <p>And, according to Eure, the NYPD has issued tighter guidelines on use of force as a result of the Inspector General's reports.</p> <p>"Approximately eight months after this office published its first report on use of force by NYPD, the department released a set of revised policies that more precisely define the use of force, as well as a more detailed tracking form," Eure said. "All uniformed officers are now required to use a 'Threat, Resistance, or Injury Form" (TRI) whenever they use force or witness another officer using force at the scene." Last year, the City Council passed a law requiring the NYPD to publicly report use of force metrics derived from TRI data, and Eure stated that the IG’s office will soon release a report on the NYPD’s compliance with TRI.</p> <p>Eure also boasted of a 2016 report that found no increase in felony crime concurrent with a dramatic decrease in enforcement of quality-of-life offenses, better known as broken windows offenses. While the NYPD continues to utilize broken windows policing that data shows disproportionately impacts communities of color, arrests and summonses have continued to drop, as has crime.</p> <p>After Peters and Eure, advocates and service providers testified, offering some ideas for further scrutiny by the IG. According to testimony from Brooklyn Defender Services’ Debora Silberman, 86% of the almost 61,000 low-level marijuana arrests in New York City were of African-Americans or Latinos, despite whites using marijuana at an approximately equivalent rate.</p> <p>Silberman also criticized the common NYPD practice of “testilying,” better known as police perjury, and the NYPD IG’s failure to address an apparent culture of officers lying on the stand. Recently, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/17/nyregion/brooklyn-judge-police-perjury-nypd.html?_r=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New York Times reported</a> that a Brooklyn judge warned the city that a court hearing on police perjury was imminent.</p> <p>“As a public defender, I can assure you that such lying is prevalent and the NYPD has made no recognizable efforts to meaningfully address it,” Silberman said. “Likewise, the imbalance of power in the criminal legal system that pressures defendants to accept plea deals rather than go to trial also enables prosecutors to provide cover for police perjury, or ‘testilying,’ by making offers that defendants all-but-cannot refuse.”</p> <p>Although the NYPD has decided not to comply with many recommendations, the department has not been outright dismissive of the IG. Peters said that, to date, the Inspector General has not had to issue a subpoena to the NYPD for documents related to an investigation.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/12290361665_bbcd7ca26d_z.jpg" alt="Mark Peters DOI City Council" width="600" height="414" /></p> <p>DOI Commissioner Mark Peters (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>Four years ago, over the veto of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the City Council passed the Community Safety Act, a landmark piece of legislation relating to policing in New York City. One of the law’s most prominent planks was the creation of the NYPD Inspector General, an independent police department watchdog that would audit NYPD practices and operations and make recommendations on improvements.</p> <p>With the nation on edge over widely disseminated videos of black men being shot by officers and reform activists continuously criticizing the NYPD’s broken windows policing model and the use of stop-and-frisk as racist, the Community Safety Act aimed to increase the department’s accountability to the public and increase the public’s confidence in the department. In 2014, after Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) appointed Philip Eure, the former head of Washington D.C.’s Office of Police Complaints, to be the first NYPD Inspector General.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the City Council’s Committees on Public Safety and Oversight and Investigations held a joint oversight hearing to see how, nearly four years down the line, the NYPD Inspector General is accomplishing its stated goals.</p> <p>The IG’s goals for improving the NYPD were repeated several times throughout the hearing, which saw initial testimony from Eure and his supervisor, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters. Among those doing the questioning were City Council Members Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams, who were the lead sponsors of the Community Safety Act.</p> <p>“The IG’s mission is to enhance the effectiveness of the police department, increase public safety, protect civil liberties and civil rights, and increase the public’s confidence in the police force, thereby building stronger police-community relations,” Eure said at the hearing. “We believe that we have made important strides towards accomplishing all of these goals in the last four years, and we look forward to continuing to build upon that work in the years to come.”</p> <p>Since its first publicly released report in January 2015, concerning police chokeholds, the IG has released nine reports on various NYPD practices that have resulted in some significant policy changes, but have also occasionally resulted in no changes. When the IG releases recommendations, the NYPD is pressured but not required to adopt reforms to operations and practices; if the NYPD refuses to take up a reform voluntarily, the City Council can pass legislation to mandate it.</p> <p>The IG has released reports on NYPD practices such as chokeholds, de-escalation and use of force, quality of life summonses, responding to emotionally disturbed people, body camera use, investigations of political activity, and, most recently, handling of U visa requests for undocumented immigrants who were the victims of a crime.</p> <p>Although the NYPD has often refused to implement recommended policies, some significant reforms have been voluntarily taken up by the department. For instance, the NYPD's Intelligence Bureau has formalized tracking measures for investigations into political activity, particularly with regard to investigative deadlines that were often ignored by the department's investigators.</p> <p>However, in a large number of areas, the NYPD has simply ignored the recommendations of the IG, at times displaying open hostility toward the IG’s office. In January, IG’s office released a report showing that the NYPD is not adequately coordinating Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for officers, crucial when responding to calls involving an emotionally disturbed person (EDP).</p> <p>At Wednesday’s hearing, Council Member Lander asked Eure and Peters what could be done to ensure NYPD compliance with recommendations, highlighting the NYPD’s refusal to streamline and improve its coordination of trained officers responding to the scene of calls regarding EDPs.</p> <p>Peters urged the Council to step up efforts to codify into law certain recommendations that the NYPD refuses to implement.</p> <p>“The NYPD has accepted far more recommendations than they have not,” Peters said. “And that’s great. And then the job for us, the DOI, is to follow up and to make sure that they’re implementing that.”</p> <p>Peters later said that instances where the NYPD refuses to comply are the most crucial places that the IG’s office and the Council must partner.</p> <p>“At the end of the day, that is the place where it’s most important for us to be partnering with the Council,” Peters said. “Because you have that report, we present that report to the mayor, we present that to the Council. And so the Council has the opportunity to read that report if you have questions.”</p> <p>Council Member Williams, who represents the district where an NYPD officer recently shot and killed Dwayne Jeune, an emotionally disturbed man, questioned when a task force would be created to investigate and determine best practices for the NYPD in responding to EDP calls. Four officers responded to the Jeune call; Jeune was killed by the only responding officer who did not receive CIT training.</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio initially refused to set up a task force after Jeune’s death in July, but relented after prodding from the Council, according to Williams.</p> <p>Although Eure and Peters had earlier said that they shared reports with the NYPD and City Hall before releasing them to the public in order to glean potentially overlooked facts, Peters said that IG is not involved with the task force.</p> <p>"I think, obviously, it is an important idea. What I would say, the task force is important, but I believe there are already some things that we know need to be done," Peters said.</p> <p>The IG’s office will also soon be releasing its first report related to Williams’ recently passed bill, Intro 119, requiring compilation of litigation data against officers and for the IG to use that to develop recommendations. The IG will be releasing the report in April, which Williams said he looks forward to.</p> <p>Williams proudly proclaimed that things are going well, despite the NYPD and pundits saying that the creation of the NYPD Inspector General would "destroy the city, the sky would literally crack open, and brown and black young people were gonna wreak havoc on this city, and the inspector general in particular was going to confuse all police officers, they would have no idea who to listen to: the inspector general or the commissioner."</p> <p>Crime has continued to fall while the NYPD has adopted some, but not all, of the reforms proposed by the IG. All 23,000 foot patrol officers are scheduled to do their jobs with body cameras on their person by 2019.</p> <p>And, according to Eure, the NYPD has issued tighter guidelines on use of force as a result of the Inspector General's reports.</p> <p>"Approximately eight months after this office published its first report on use of force by NYPD, the department released a set of revised policies that more precisely define the use of force, as well as a more detailed tracking form," Eure said. "All uniformed officers are now required to use a 'Threat, Resistance, or Injury Form" (TRI) whenever they use force or witness another officer using force at the scene." Last year, the City Council passed a law requiring the NYPD to publicly report use of force metrics derived from TRI data, and Eure stated that the IG’s office will soon release a report on the NYPD’s compliance with TRI.</p> <p>Eure also boasted of a 2016 report that found no increase in felony crime concurrent with a dramatic decrease in enforcement of quality-of-life offenses, better known as broken windows offenses. While the NYPD continues to utilize broken windows policing that data shows disproportionately impacts communities of color, arrests and summonses have continued to drop, as has crime.</p> <p>After Peters and Eure, advocates and service providers testified, offering some ideas for further scrutiny by the IG. According to testimony from Brooklyn Defender Services’ Debora Silberman, 86% of the almost 61,000 low-level marijuana arrests in New York City were of African-Americans or Latinos, despite whites using marijuana at an approximately equivalent rate.</p> <p>Silberman also criticized the common NYPD practice of “testilying,” better known as police perjury, and the NYPD IG’s failure to address an apparent culture of officers lying on the stand. Recently, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/17/nyregion/brooklyn-judge-police-perjury-nypd.html?_r=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New York Times reported</a> that a Brooklyn judge warned the city that a court hearing on police perjury was imminent.</p> <p>“As a public defender, I can assure you that such lying is prevalent and the NYPD has made no recognizable efforts to meaningfully address it,” Silberman said. “Likewise, the imbalance of power in the criminal legal system that pressures defendants to accept plea deals rather than go to trial also enables prosecutors to provide cover for police perjury, or ‘testilying,’ by making offers that defendants all-but-cannot refuse.”</p> <p>Although the NYPD has decided not to comply with many recommendations, the department has not been outright dismissive of the IG. Peters said that, to date, the Inspector General has not had to issue a subpoena to the NYPD for documents related to an investigation.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Without Key Stakeholders, Administration Supports Council Police Misconduct Bill 2016-06-28T04:00:00+00:00 2016-06-28T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6419:without-key-stakeholders-administration-supports-council-police-misconduct-bill Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/jumaane_williams.jpg" alt="jumaane williams" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Jumaane Williams (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">The City Council&rsquo;s Committee on Oversight and Investigations heard a bill on Tuesday, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, which would require centralized reporting of data on police misconduct from multiple agencies to identify systemic problems and help create an early intervention system for the NYPD. To the disappointment of Williams and others, though, key stakeholders to be affected by the bill and instrumental in implementing it if it becomes law, were not present to testify at the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bill, <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1672818&amp;GUID=0CA0B20D-5E48-45E4-B81C-07BB0630CADF&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Intro. 119</a>, requires the Inspector General for the NYPD, whose office is part of the Department of Investigations, to provide a report every six months on cases of police misconduct, particularly civil cases filed against police officers, in order to develop systemic recommendations on training, disciplining and monitoring officers. Council Member Williams was a co-lead sponsor of the law creating the NYPD IG, which passed over a Mayor Michael Bloomberg veto in 2013.</p> <p dir="ltr">At Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing, the city&rsquo;s Law Department testified in support of the bill, which has been through a number of revisions since it was first heard at the Council two years ago. At earlier hearings, Law Department representatives expressed concern that they lacked the necessary resources to provide the data required and that some of the information may be confidential under attorney-client privilege. The department represents employees of city agencies, including the NYPD, in civil and criminal litigation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thomas Giovanni, chief of staff and executive assistant for government policy at the Law Department, said the bill in its current form resolved those issues and &ldquo;strikes an appropriate balance between the Law Department&rsquo;s operational capability and its mandate to safeguard the attorney-client relationship with the desire of the public to know more about the performance of the city&rsquo;s police officers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Other than the Law Department, there was no other testimony from the de Blasio administration or related entities. No one testified from the NYPD, the Department of Investigations, the NYPD inspector general&rsquo;s office, the Civilian Complaints Review Board, or the Commission to Combat Police Corruption. Under the legislation, these agencies would coordinate to provide the required data. The absences of the IG and NYPD were particularly felt, considering the bill aims at reforming the police department and would be executed by the IG&rsquo;s office.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Certainly there were questions here that were relevant to the PD, the IG or the DOI, and those questions couldn&rsquo;t be adequately asked or answered because they were absent,&rdquo; Council Member Vincent Gentile, chair of the committee, told reporters after the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Williams also expressed disappointment that the IG and NYPD failed to show up at the hearing. &ldquo;I think if they weren&rsquo;t here, someone from the administration should&rsquo;ve been here that can answer the questions as a whole because it does apply to more than just the law department,&rdquo; he said after the hearing.</p> <p>The Department of Investigation declined to comment for this article. The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Last week, an IG report that undermined the belief in aggressive policing of low-level offenses as preventative of felony crimes invited a <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mayor-police-commissioner-bash-windows-report-1466714344" target="_blank">sharp rebuke</a> from the NYPD and led to an ensuing back-and-forth between the head of the DOI, Mark Peters, and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. One reporter asked Council Members Williams and Gentile if this might have been a reason behind the absences. &ldquo;If there is a spat going on,&rdquo; Gentile responded, &ldquo;they shouldn&rsquo;t hold our bill hostage as a result, so to speak. We&rsquo;re gonna move forward in any regard. It would&rsquo;ve just been a more complete hearing had they been here.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">(The same reporter, from Crain&rsquo;s New York Business, said Council Member Rory Lancman, a member of the committee, told her after the hearing that the administration was &ldquo;contemptuous&rdquo; of the Council for not being there.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Representatives from the Legal Aid Society and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund also testified at the hearing. &ldquo;This bill is an important first step in identifying patterns and trends of police misconduct and has the potential to improve both officer performance and police-community relations,&rdquo; said Cynthia Conti-Cook, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society&rsquo;s Special Litigation Unit in Criminal Practice. The two organizations also proposed amendments to the bill to make it more effective. These included expanding the data collected, specifying how civil action data can be used, and ensuring transparency in the collection and analysis of the data.</p> <p dir="ltr">A concern brought up by Council Members Lancman and Helen Rosenthal was that the city should also collect and examine data on misconduct by precinct and geographical area. Law Department officials said this would be overly cumbersome and even possibly misleading in cases where police officers are assigned to different locations for specific events.</p> <p dir="ltr">A second-order effect of the bill that emerged at the hearing is a reduction in the city&rsquo;s expenditure on litigation arising from misconduct cases. Early in the hearing, Gentile cited Mayor Bill de Blasio&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-30/de-blasio-to-fight-nypd-lawsuits-in-court-hire-more-lawyers" target="_blank">allocation</a> of $4.5 million to the Law Department to fight the increasing number of lawsuits against the NYPD, especially frivolous ones. The Law Department&rsquo;s Giovanni stressed that this funding was meant for hiring more attorneys to deal with cases faster and more efficiently.</p> <p>Later, in response to Gentile&rsquo;s questioning, Giovanni said, &ldquo;The more efficient information exchange we have, the more clear we are about trends, the more we know about what&rsquo;s happening, I assume that hopefully more efficient our response will be, and ultimately that means cost savings. That&rsquo;s the goal.&rdquo; He estimated these savings would occur at least a year after the bill is approved.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/jumaane_williams.jpg" alt="jumaane williams" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Jumaane Williams (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">The City Council&rsquo;s Committee on Oversight and Investigations heard a bill on Tuesday, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, which would require centralized reporting of data on police misconduct from multiple agencies to identify systemic problems and help create an early intervention system for the NYPD. To the disappointment of Williams and others, though, key stakeholders to be affected by the bill and instrumental in implementing it if it becomes law, were not present to testify at the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bill, <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1672818&amp;GUID=0CA0B20D-5E48-45E4-B81C-07BB0630CADF&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Intro. 119</a>, requires the Inspector General for the NYPD, whose office is part of the Department of Investigations, to provide a report every six months on cases of police misconduct, particularly civil cases filed against police officers, in order to develop systemic recommendations on training, disciplining and monitoring officers. Council Member Williams was a co-lead sponsor of the law creating the NYPD IG, which passed over a Mayor Michael Bloomberg veto in 2013.</p> <p dir="ltr">At Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing, the city&rsquo;s Law Department testified in support of the bill, which has been through a number of revisions since it was first heard at the Council two years ago. At earlier hearings, Law Department representatives expressed concern that they lacked the necessary resources to provide the data required and that some of the information may be confidential under attorney-client privilege. The department represents employees of city agencies, including the NYPD, in civil and criminal litigation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thomas Giovanni, chief of staff and executive assistant for government policy at the Law Department, said the bill in its current form resolved those issues and &ldquo;strikes an appropriate balance between the Law Department&rsquo;s operational capability and its mandate to safeguard the attorney-client relationship with the desire of the public to know more about the performance of the city&rsquo;s police officers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Other than the Law Department, there was no other testimony from the de Blasio administration or related entities. No one testified from the NYPD, the Department of Investigations, the NYPD inspector general&rsquo;s office, the Civilian Complaints Review Board, or the Commission to Combat Police Corruption. Under the legislation, these agencies would coordinate to provide the required data. The absences of the IG and NYPD were particularly felt, considering the bill aims at reforming the police department and would be executed by the IG&rsquo;s office.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Certainly there were questions here that were relevant to the PD, the IG or the DOI, and those questions couldn&rsquo;t be adequately asked or answered because they were absent,&rdquo; Council Member Vincent Gentile, chair of the committee, told reporters after the hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Williams also expressed disappointment that the IG and NYPD failed to show up at the hearing. &ldquo;I think if they weren&rsquo;t here, someone from the administration should&rsquo;ve been here that can answer the questions as a whole because it does apply to more than just the law department,&rdquo; he said after the hearing.</p> <p>The Department of Investigation declined to comment for this article. The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Last week, an IG report that undermined the belief in aggressive policing of low-level offenses as preventative of felony crimes invited a <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mayor-police-commissioner-bash-windows-report-1466714344" target="_blank">sharp rebuke</a> from the NYPD and led to an ensuing back-and-forth between the head of the DOI, Mark Peters, and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. One reporter asked Council Members Williams and Gentile if this might have been a reason behind the absences. &ldquo;If there is a spat going on,&rdquo; Gentile responded, &ldquo;they shouldn&rsquo;t hold our bill hostage as a result, so to speak. We&rsquo;re gonna move forward in any regard. It would&rsquo;ve just been a more complete hearing had they been here.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">(The same reporter, from Crain&rsquo;s New York Business, said Council Member Rory Lancman, a member of the committee, told her after the hearing that the administration was &ldquo;contemptuous&rdquo; of the Council for not being there.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Representatives from the Legal Aid Society and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund also testified at the hearing. &ldquo;This bill is an important first step in identifying patterns and trends of police misconduct and has the potential to improve both officer performance and police-community relations,&rdquo; said Cynthia Conti-Cook, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society&rsquo;s Special Litigation Unit in Criminal Practice. The two organizations also proposed amendments to the bill to make it more effective. These included expanding the data collected, specifying how civil action data can be used, and ensuring transparency in the collection and analysis of the data.</p> <p dir="ltr">A concern brought up by Council Members Lancman and Helen Rosenthal was that the city should also collect and examine data on misconduct by precinct and geographical area. Law Department officials said this would be overly cumbersome and even possibly misleading in cases where police officers are assigned to different locations for specific events.</p> <p dir="ltr">A second-order effect of the bill that emerged at the hearing is a reduction in the city&rsquo;s expenditure on litigation arising from misconduct cases. Early in the hearing, Gentile cited Mayor Bill de Blasio&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-30/de-blasio-to-fight-nypd-lawsuits-in-court-hire-more-lawyers" target="_blank">allocation</a> of $4.5 million to the Law Department to fight the increasing number of lawsuits against the NYPD, especially frivolous ones. The Law Department&rsquo;s Giovanni stressed that this funding was meant for hiring more attorneys to deal with cases faster and more efficiently.</p> <p>Later, in response to Gentile&rsquo;s questioning, Giovanni said, &ldquo;The more efficient information exchange we have, the more clear we are about trends, the more we know about what&rsquo;s happening, I assume that hopefully more efficient our response will be, and ultimately that means cost savings. That&rsquo;s the goal.&rdquo; He estimated these savings would occur at least a year after the bill is approved.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>