Police Commissioner Bratton — trying to be slick by pre-empting critical report?
[New York City]
Independent activists groups reacted with skepticism saying without informing the public about how and how many officers who commit excessive force are punished the new arrest guideline announced for the NYPD represents whitewashing.
The NYPD announced patrol guide and reporting changes while separately the NYPD Inspector General released a report critical of use of force policies.
While the move towards NYPD patrol guide and reporting changes that increase the transparency surrounding use of force policies are a positive step, they will have little practical impact without fixing the department’s failure to hold officers accountable in an adequate, timely fashion,” said Priscilla Gonzalez, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, a police monitoring and activist organization. “NYPD reporting also needs to include reporting of disciplinary actions taken for use of force cases, not just those reported and substantiated by CCRB. The NYPD Inspector General report is only further substantiation of the reality that the department fails to discipline officers who use force without justification, and that officers are too often the ones escalating encounters. Suspension with pay, simply moving an officer to a different part of the NYPD, or docking vacation days are not acceptable discipline for violations of the fundamental oath to protect and serve.
The IG report also raises serious questions about Commissioner Bratton’s testimony to the New York City Council and media claiming the NYPD use of force levels were historically low and ‘a model of restraint.’ If the department had already acknowledged its reporting and collection of this information was inadequate both internally and in its communication with the federal government, it shows Bratton’s previous testimony to the Council at an oversight hearing as disingenuous and factually inconsistent. Rolling out the increased use of another tool of force in Tasers, which have been connected to significant controversies of abuse and deaths‎, as the department is cited for a failure in its use of force policies is also highly problematic.
Gonzales’ comments were echoed by Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union who also questioned the timing of the NYPD’s guidelines and the Inspector General’s report.
“The New York Police Departments well-timed announcement this morning that it was implementing new use-of-force guidelines was clearly intended to blunt the sharpness of the report issued hours later by the NYPD Inspector General that was critical of the department’s tracking and handling of officers use of force,” Dadey said.
“That the NYPD action and the IG report come from separate arms of the same City Hall creates confusion. For New Yorkers wanting clarity and needed policy changes around this important issue, it is unclear if the right hand of City Hall is working effectively with the left hand to address this pressing problem. The needed actions of the NYPD must now be measured against the findings and recommendations of the IG, but the public must be provided one cohesive action supported collaboratively by both the IG and the Police Commissioner.
We need to know that what the NYPD will do with regard to use-of-force will solve the problems identified by the IG. New Yorkers deserve a clear policy and new approach on the use of force by the police that does not appear to be part of a confusing game of dueling brinkmanship.”