NYCLU Calls on NYC to Monitor Police Misconduct Lawsuits

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
December 11, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – At a City Council hearing today, the New York Civil Liberties Union expressed support for a bill that would require the city to publicly report on civil lawsuits brought against the NYPD, but it emphasized that stronger measures are needed to effectively monitor lawsuits alleging police misconduct.

In the past decade, the city has spent nearly $500 million resolving lawsuits alleging police misconduct. In 2008 alone, the city spent $35.2 million on 2,863 lawsuits alleging police misconduct.

“This bill marks a valuable starting point for the creation of a more comprehensive system of oversight,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who testified before the Committee on Government Operations. “Given the enormous costs to the city and the threat that police misconduct poses to public safety, the City Council must create a comprehensive system of tracking, analyzing and responding to lawsuits that reveal misconduct.”

The bill, Int. No. 1025, would require the Office of Corporation Council to file quarterly reports with the City Council on the nature and status of civil lawsuits brought against the NYPD. Currently, little information is disclosed about police-misconduct lawsuits – a stark contrast with reporting about other NYPD activity. For example, the NYPD produces detailed reports about police shootings and its stop-and-frisk activity.

The NYCLU advised council members to adopt a coordinated approach to monitoring the lawsuits that would involve the Office of Corporation Counsel, the NYPD, the local District Attorneys and United States Attorneys, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Comptroller’s Office, and the City Council.

The NYCLU also suggested that the bill be amended to include more specific information about those who file lawsuits, such as their race, age and gender; about the police officers accused of misconduct, such as their race, age, gender, years on the force and prior lawsuits; and about the allegations being made. The NYCLU also recommended that the information be reported to the Comptroller’s Office and Civilian Complaint Review Board, as well as the City Council.

“Simply put, there is much more information about lawsuits that can and should be produced,” said NYCLU Legislative Director Robert Perry. “This information could be used to identify problems and craft policies that improve public safety and safeguard the integrity of the NYPD.”

To read the NYCLU’s full testimony, visit: www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-calls-nyc-monitor-police-misconduct-lawsuits

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