NYPD's Top Cop Brushed Off 100s Of Cop Misconduct Penalties: Advocates
Commissioner Keechant Sewell said she broke from discipline recommendations 70 times last year. Advocates say the actual number is 425. An analysis released by The Legal Aid Society has found that policeops in at least 425 civilian complaints dodged discipline recommended by the Civilian Complaint Review Board because of Commissioner Sewell's action and inaction. Advocates have called for immediate action by City Hall to ensure that Sewell does not abuse her discretion to undermine discipline, and have urged Mayor Eric Adams to develop new guidelines to rein in Sewell. The results raise new concerns about the NYPD's systemic failure to impose appropriate discipline, while the civilian review board offers discipline recommendations in misconduct cases.
Published : 2 weeks ago by Matt Troutman in Politics
Cops in at least 425 civilian complaints dodged discipline recommended by Civilian Complaint Review Board because of Sewell's action and inaction, an analysis released Thursday by The Legal Aid Society found. Sewell had claimed she departed from civilian watchdog recommendations more than 70 times in 2022. But the analysis found the true number was at least 425 times, with roughly 350 from cases in which Sewell refused to discipline officers without explanation.
“This further erodes public trust in the NYPD’s disciplinary system, and we demand immediate action by City Hall to ensure that Commissioner Sewell ceases to abuse her discretion to undermine discipline," said Maggie Hadley, a legal fellow with The Legal Aid Society's Criminal Defense Practice’s Special Litigation Unit, in a statement.
NYPD officials didn't respond to Patch's request for comment as of publication.
Advocates laid out their findings in a letter to Mayor Eric Adams that argued the results raise new concerns about the NYPD's systemic failure to impose appropriate discipline. While the civilian review board offers discipline recommendations in misconduct case, Sewell, as commissioner, keeps the final say on punishment.
Time after time, Sewell disregarded those recommendations, most often with explanation, advocates argued. And when Sewell offered explanations — such as in one case where a 240-pound officer lifted a "small, skinny" 14-year-old boy in the air and threw him to the ground — advocates argued she showed a selective and biased reading of the facts.
"Despite the fact that the officer admitted in his CCRB interview that the boy stopped fighting and did not resist as soon as the officer placed his arm on him, the Police Commissioner denied that the subsequent takedown amounted to excessive force, noting that the officer 'described his actions as controlled,' and did not penalize the officer," the letter states. Legal Aid advocates urged Adams to develop new guidelines to rein in Sewell's discretion. They also argued Sewell had called to water down a much-vaunted disciplinary matrix that police officials previously said would drive their decisions.
"We ask that you reject this call and commit not to propose changes to the Matrix that would increase the Commissioner’s discretion or reduce penalties for misconduct," the letter states.
Topics: Law Enforcement, NYC, NYPD