The New York Police Department needs to improve how investigators handle biased-policing complaints, according to a report from the agency’s independent Office of the Inspector General.
The report released Wednesday noted that “biased policing, whether perceived or actual, is a matter of significant public concern.”
“Biased policing, actual or perceived, undermines the core value of equal treatment under the law and also poses a threat to public safety because racial profiling and other types of biased policing undermine the public’s confidence and trust in law enforcement,” NYPD Inspector General Philip K. Eure said in news release prefacing the report. “NYPD must ensure that these complaints are thoroughly investigated and tracked.”
The Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD (OIG-NYPD) is an independent department that investigates and makes recommendations relating to the operations and practices of the NYPD.
The police department did not substantiate a single one of the complaints of biased policing it received between October 2014 and January 2019, according to the report. The department received 2,495 complaints, the report said.
The OIG analyzed 888 complaints filed between October 2014 and January 2017 and made 23 recommendations to improve how the police department handles civilian complaints of biased policing.
The report acknowledges that definitively proving biased policing is difficult based on the standard set in the current department policy.
“Intent is a necessary element, and given the challenge of determining the subject officer’s state of mind and whether there was an intention to discriminate against the complainant, biased policing is often difficult to prove,” the report says.
Sixty-eight percent of the considered complaints contained allegations of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color or national origin, and 66.5% of complainants were black, according to the report.
Separately, the New York City Civilian Complaints Review Board substantiated 49 cases of officers using “racial or other protected class slurs” which resulted in disciplinary actions against the officers, according to an NYPD statement to CNN.
Allegations of “offensive language” were not considered in the report released today, because the NYPD does not consider racial slurs to be instances of biased policing if not accompanied by a “police action,” according to the report.
Altering that policy to change the scope of its definition of biased policing was among the report’s recommendations to the department.
The CCRB, however, says it currently doesn’t have the bandwidth to adequately investigate biased policing.
“In order to take on the investigation, mediation, and prosecution of additional types of profiling allegations, the CCRB would need full funding for resources and specialized staff capable of analyzing the large volume of information. Without this, the CCRB would be forced to unsubstantiate all but the most obvious allegations of profiling,” New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) Chair Fred Davie said about the report.
This story has been updated to clarify that the New York Police Department’s Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation and wrote the report, not the New York Police Department.