Advocates, justice stakeholders, and leaders of faith today voiced their support for the Administration’s new police reforms establishing clear guidelines and penalties for officer misconduct.
These reforms are part of the Administration’s larger pledge to reimagine policing for a safer and fairer city.
“The new police discipline reforms establishing clear guidelines and penalties, especially for the most egregious violations by police officers, and the agreement between the CCRB and the NYPD ensuring greater adherence to CCRB determinations, represent significant steps forward in improving both policing and accountability in New York City”, said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of FPWA and co-sponsor of the City’s response to the NYS Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. “When fully implemented, these monumental reforms will boost transparency and trust, and hopefully fairness in policing, all of which are substantiated concerns of many New Yorkers.”
“The matrix and MOU are important steps for consistent application of discipline and transparency, but its ultimate impact will only be revealed over time when we see the numbers and lack of deviation from presumptive penalties, said Wes Moore, Robin Hood CEO and co-sponsor of the City’s response to the NYS Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.” There are still concerns that need to be addressed, such as clarity in how disciplinary actions impact future promotions impact and too many mitigating factors, but we look forward to seeing how the Police Commissioner reports on the consistent application of presumptive penalties over time and how these systems bring greater transparency to the disciplinary practices of the NYPD. Accountability and transparency has been sorely lacking and a great concern for communities.”
“The Memorandum of Understanding between the CCRB and the NYPD outlining greater adherence to CCRB determinations represent significant steps in responding to clearly articulated demands from the community for increased police department accountability in New York City”, said Arva Rice, CEO of New York Urban League and co-sponsor of the City’s response to the NYS Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. “We recognize that the next step in this process is to codify these efforts into law and we look forward to continued engagement with NYPD, City Hall and our community to meet the long-term goals of reimaging policing.”
“The tragic events of the past summer have put a spotlight on the longstanding crisis in the relationship between the police and many New York City neighborhoods. The reforms announced today are designed to promote justice, fairness, and security. This can only be achieved with a real commitment to the equal justice rights of all New Yorkers and the safety and well-being of our city,” said Hon. Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of New York State, chair of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, and of counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP
“This action is definitely a step in the direction we need, but there is still much more work that must be done,” said Mike Tucker- Founder of Lay the Guns Down & The Community Hub.
“In New York City, we know what improved transparency, increased accountability, and community engagement can do to strengthen the bonds between communities and police. Now, it is time to go even further as we continue to meet our long-term goal of reimaging policing in our city,” said Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director Interfaith Center of New York and Episcopal Priest.
“The pursuit of a fair, just, and transparent society is universal across faiths. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York for taking this momentous step forward to strengthen the bond between community and police,” said Pastor James Richmond.
“Jewish tradition affirms that leaders should be held to a higher standard of ethical behavior. The new disciplinary matrix for officer misconduct affirms this need and charts a course towards police accountability. We eagerly await further progress in this critical justice issue, said Rabbi Joshua Stanton, East End Temple in Manhattan
“As women faith-leaders committed to fighting violence and institutional racism in our communities, we welcome this important step of a disciplinary matrix agreed upon by the CCRB, The NYPD, and the Mayor’s office. Any step towards increasing trust between police officers and the New Yorkers they serve must include accountability and transparency—this agreement is a step forward in both areas,” said Daughters 4 Justice, Clergy Women for Peace in NYC.
“For decades, communities across our city have sought more accountability and transparency from the officers who serve them. Today is another step forward to achieve that goal and bring comprehensive police reform to New York City,” said Rev. Dr. V Simpson Turner, Jr, Lead Pastor, Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.
The new MOU agreement applies to all discipline cases and confirms that the NYPD and CCRB will use the penalty guidelines to guide officer penalties for misconduct. It details the following reforms:
- Commits CCRB and NYPD to follow the guidelines in all cases to accomplish the mutual goal of consistent and fair discipline recommendations.
- Requires a public, transparent memo by PD for all departures from the Discipline Matrix and CCRB recommendations.
- Empowers CCRB by ensuring access to officer employment history for any substantiated allegations.
The Matrix, released earlier this month, outlines presumptive penalties for instances of officer misconduct, which may be adjusted up or down in a set window based on aggravating and mitigating factors. Penalties escalate with repeated offenses. The reforms aim to increase fairness in the disciplinary system, and increase trust in the system among both members of the NYPD and the public, by improving:
- Accountability with penalties that are fair and proportional to the misconduct
- Transparency, so that both members of service and the community know what discipline to expect when an officer breaks the rules.
- Consistency, so similar actions are treated similarly, and there is greater concurrence between the CCRB recommendations and NYPD decisions on penalties.
The discipline reforms are part of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to fulfill the Obama Foundation Reimagining Policing Pledge. The pledge, in partnership with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, calls for Mayors to review, engage, report and reform. That multi-step process allowed the City to bring true community input into the formation of the discipline guidelines.
Beginning with the end of the stop-and-frisk era, the New York Police Department has continued to evolve, embarking on over seven years of reforms. The City has worked to develop policies that focus on making the lives of both residents and their communities, as well as those of officers, safer.
These reforms have led to tangible results. Between 2013 and 2019:
- Overall arrests fell 45%; misdemeanor arrests alone were more than cut in half
- Criminal summonses plummeted by 80%, from nearly 425,000 in 2013 to less than 86,000 in 2019.
- Stop-and-frisk encounters were down 93%, to less than 14,000 in 2019.
As part of the larger New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, the City undertook an extensive community engagement process last fall to develop a concrete set of additional, new reforms that will allow police to better serve residents. After receiving extensive feedback from City officials, the New York City Police Department, justice advocates, and other stakeholders, the City will publish its initial set of new reforms in the coming weeks for public comment before bringing to the City Council for ratification on or before April 1st.
Photo credit: Arva Rice.