NYCLU Says City Agency Allowed Massive Backlog of Police Misconduct Cases

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
November 14, 2006 12:00 am

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Group Calls for Immediate Investigation of Review Process

NEW YORK – The New York Civil Liberties Union today said it has obtained documents showing that a city agency allowed a backlog of more than 800 police misconduct cases to build up and then dispensed with them all in one day.

The NYCLU is calling for an immediate investigation of the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), charging that such massive backlogs may be jeopardizing the disciplinary process.

“It seems virtually impossible that 800 cases could be meaningfully reviewed in one day,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director.

According to internal CCRB documents obtained by the NYCLU, one agency review panel charged with investigating complaints of police misconduct had not met for six months between April and October 2005, creating a backlog of more than 800 cases. When the three-person panel met in October, it disposed of approximately 812 cases in one day. The cases accounted for more than 12 percent of all police misconduct complaints reviewed by the agency in 2005.

In a letter sent to the CCRB, Lieberman and NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said that the six-month delay made it likely that officers were shielded from discipline. Under New York law, any officer discipline must be imposed within 18 months of an incident.

The NYCLU is calling on the CCRB to investigate the backlog, to institute public reporting about pending cases and to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent future backlogs. Nearly 1,500 cases were pending before CCRB panels as of last week.

“To curb police misconduct and to maintain public faith in police oversight, it is essential that the CCRB complete its investigations promptly,” Dunn said. “With police misconduct complaints up nearly 50 percent since 2002, the city must have the resources and accountability in place to assure that the CCRB is not overwhelmed.”

A copy of the letter is online at: www.nyclu.org/pdfs/ccrb_backlog_ltr_111406.pdf.

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