Some officers bring racist or other hateful comments to social media [CLN, October 2019, p. 41]. However, some of these comments by cops are costing NYC taxpayers big money in lawsuit payouts and settlements.
Between January 2015 to June 2018, 70 lawsuits (including federal civil rights actions) were filed against New York Police Department (“NYPD”) officers.
Fourteen of these were settled for $508,001 in the four-year period ending in January 2021. Alleged were instances of homophobia, racism, sexism, and transphobia. The city’s independent regulatory Civilian Complaint Review Board (“CCRB”) reports receiving tens of thousands of these types of complaints since its 1985 inception, despite the NYPD Police Academy’s sensitivity presentations aimed primarily toward rookie cops.
Of these complaints, the CCRB found 554 of them to be substantiated. Unfortunately, the CCRB has no enforcement power. It makes nonbinding recommendations. It is up to the NYPD to “police” itself – to impose various sanctions and disciplinary actions on cops who have complaints against them substantiated. It has also been shown that allowing some cops to police themselves is like allowing some children to guard a candy store. [CLN, August 2019, p.41]
A New York Civil Liberties Union (“NYCLU”) analysis of CCRB’s data of these 554 substantiated complaints found that nearly no cops faced any real discipline. There was just one termination, one resignation, one suspension, and one probationary period. The remaining cases ended with forfeited vacation days and additional training.
NYCLU legal director Christopher Dunn has reacted to these disciplinary outcomes. “The question is, how come [cops] aren’t getting disciplined at all, even with what’s available? The police department doesn’t take misconduct seriously and it needs to,” Dunn stated.
It is not just top cops who withhold discipline for deserving cops. NYPD cop Michael Bergmann was giving false testimony against an innocent defendant when video evidence of his perjured testimony surfaced. Judge Danny Chun sentenced Bergmann to a single day in jail for nearly sending an innocent man to prison. [CLN, July 2020, p. 29]
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