ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom, and THE CITY teamed up to investigate ...
Historically, law enforcement unions have been a powerful lobbying force for certain political candidates and criminal justice bill proposals ...
by Kevin Bliss
The New York Police Department (“NYPD”) has consistently hindered police misconduct allegation investigations, withholding documentation and body-camera footage, as well as advising its police not to cooperate with interviews.
That’s according to an August 2020 article in ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization investigating abuses of power. With the assistance of THE CITY, WNYC/Gothamist and The Marshall Project, it investigated the NYPD and its historical lack of cooperation with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (“CCRB”), leading to a lack of discipline for misconduct and a large number of cases resolved as “inconclusive.”
The CCRB in New York was created in the 1950s in response to a coalition of advocacy groups in the city that wanted accountability in “police misconduct in their relations with Puerto Ricans and Negros specifically.” Relations between the two have been strained since the beginning.
Sometime in the 1990s, New York’s first Black mayor, David Dinkins, made the review board independent from the NYPD and gave it subpoena powers. These powers allowed the CCRB to “compel the attendance of witnesses and require the production of such records and other material as are necessary for the investigation of complaints.”
Activists say the problem is ...
by Kevin Bliss
Lexipol, a privately owned company that drafts policies for over 8,100 police departments, fire, EMS, correctional services, and other public safety agencies nationwide is being criticized by reform activists as doing the bare minimum required by law to keep from being sued. They argue that the company is only concerned about its bottom line and hinders transparency at a time when reform measures are trying to hold police to a higher standard.
Started in 2003 by two retired police officers who later become lawyers, Lexipol charges the city, county, or state a fee to evaluate current departmental policies and rewrite them to comply with changing laws. The company brochure boasts: “a cost-effective solution that provides comprehensive policies and policy updates, Daily Training Bulletins to help officers apply policies, and reporting features to track policy acknowledgment.”
One of the ultimate goals of Lexipol is to limit liability for those public safety services they serve. Their material is advertised as what is necessary for “legally defensive content,” protecting agencies from lawsuits.
A senior staff attorney at the ACLU, Carl Takei, said, “The entire policy philosophy of Lexipol is based on the idea that if the policies just describe the ...
by Kevin Bliss
Eddie Lee Howard, Jr. was the thirty-fourth prisoner whose case has been overturned because of the debunked pseudo-science of bite mark forensics. After 30 years in prison, the district attorney now has the choice whether to retry Howard or drop the charges.
Howard, a Black man, was arrested in 1992 in Columbus, Mississippi, for the murder of an elderly White woman. Dr. Steven Hayne performed the autopsies where he testified the second was required because there “was some question that there could be injuries inflicted by teeth.” After the second autopsy, he referred the case to Dr. Michael West, who used his patented method of exposing the body to ultraviolet light while wearing special glasses where he found bite marks he testified matched Howard’s teeth on the victim’s neck, arm, and breast. Howard was convicted and sentenced to death.
Represented by the Mississippi Innocence Project, Howard was granted in 2010 the right to have DNA analysis conducted on the evidence. Results excluded Howard from every piece of evidence tested. More importantly, DNA analysis found no saliva or male DNA on the victim’s nightgown where the underlying bite marks were said to have been found.
“The DNA testing ...