HANDCUFFED: Why New York's Pro- Stop-and-Frisk Mayor Bloomberg Prefers Emasculated CCRB

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Bloomberg Style: CCRB Is Toothless Police Monitor

Last week, a status report, and letter, from the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) emerged which underscores the need for real transparency to hold those accountable who implement prejudiced police policies, like Stop-and-Frisk, that target communities of color for criminalization.

It's time we demand concrete accountability from politicians and those who craft police policy.

In a letter http://www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb/pdf/ccrbsemi2012_Jan_Jun.pdf attached, to the report the CCRB said April 12, 2012 “marked an important milestone in the agency’s history. It is in that month that the CCRB and the Police Department entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that conferred prosecutorial power from the Police Department to the CCRB for substantiated cases in which subject officers face charges and specifications.

The transfer of prosecutorial power builds on an earlier pilot program under which a CCRB attorney prosecuted one in five cases that went to disciplinary trials at the Police Department.

The MOU now provides the CCRB authority to conduct, with limited exceptions, nearly all trials stemming from its most serious substantiated complaints. To help us handle this new and important responsibility, we have assembled a great team of seasoned trial attorneys to staff our new prosecutorial unit. I am confident that having the CCRB, an independent agency, prosecuting these cases will further enhance transparency and public confidence in the New York City Police Department and its disciplinary process.” 

The letter is signed by CCRB Chairman Daniel Chu.

This letter and the report—is a prime example and an admission—of the failed accountability communities of color have gotten from the CCRB, New York City elected officials, and the economic elites who underwrite much of the discriminatory police procedures we witness like the Stop-and-Frisk policy. For one thing, how does this “independent agency” expect to obtain justice against criminal cops when it will be constrained by those members who are mayoral or police appointees?

Moreover, how can it be “independent” when the mayor and police get to appoint members to CCRB? Now, the CCRB is telling us they have new power to prosecute in “substantiated cases” with, supposedly, “limited exceptions.” It seems some tricky tactics are at play here.

We must ask the question: why are we hearing about this now? Is this letter trying to convince us this historically powerless agency can now be expected to deliver actionable accountability? Or, could it be this is another strategy—like the promotion of Black NYPD Officer Philip Banks—to stifle the momentum of change Black and Latino communities are cry out for?

Here we should talk about the current case of Floyd v. City of New York. This important case is exposing the NYPD brass as victimizers of working-class and poor people of color. For years, we’ve been told the idea NYPD has a quota system in place was imaginary fiction. But now taped recordings have been introduced into evidence showing NYPD superiors pressuring police officers to write tickets and make arrests.

In now infamous recordings, provided by Officer Pedro Serrano and Officer Adhyl Polanco, we hear police supervisors demanding officer compliance with writing the requisite amount of summonses and arrests. In one 2009 recording, made by Officer Polanco of the 41st precinct, it was explained, the NYPD brass wanted quotas of “20 to 1,” reportedly, meaning officers were expected to make at least 20 summonses and one arrest every month. Officer Polanco testified this requirement was “non-negotiable.” In another recording, made by Officer Serrano from the 40 precinct, NYPD Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack is heard talking about stopping “the right people at the right time; the right location.” Inspector McCormack then singled out Black males ages “14 to 20, 21.”

In times gone by, whenever a cop committed an outrage we were told those incidents are caused by “bad apples.” However, the evidence that is being revealed by this case turns than notion on its head. In fact, we can now say the killings of some Blacks and Latinos were likely set in motion by policies implemented by those who write the checks of regular cops.

The bombshell revelation in last week’s testimony was made by State Senator Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain. Senator Adams testified that, in 2010, during a meeting in then Governor David Patterson’s office Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that he targeted and focused on Blacks and Latinos because he “wanted to instill fear in them that any time they leave their homes they could be targeted by police." Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries confirms this account. Why would the police commissioner want to “instill fear” in Blacks and Latinos, unless, he and those he answers to have decided every Black and Latino male is a possible criminal? Is there any wonder then why they police communities of color far differently than White communities?

Apparently, Commissioner Kelly has decided not to testify in the Floyd Trial. This decision is quite telling in of itself. Think of it, police interrogate citizens—not just when they make arrests—but do so, especially, in communities of color when they routinely stop people.

They ask people where they going, what they are doing, etc. And most times, if someone refuses to answer this is viewed with suspicion. Should we not view Commissioner’s Kelly decision not to testify in the Floyd Case with equal suspicion?

Mr. Kelly is the public face of policing in New York City. And in this case the credibility of the NYPD leadership is already in the toilet. The brave testimony of Officer Serrano, Officer Polanco and that of Senator Adams should be of such a serious embarrassment that the commissioner should be running to the witness chair to tell his side of the story. Instead, the commissioner tried to get some of his rebuttal statements—to the charges made by Senator Adams—introduced into the trial, a move that was denied by Judge Shira Scheindling. This attempt makes Commissioner Kelly look even guiltier.

Unfortunately, for Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg the damage is already done and Stop-and-Frisk has been shown for what we always thought it was: nothing more than a racist police ploy to criminalize communities of color—while impoverishing Black and Latino people. The NYPD and the mayor seem upset about the push to obtain an inspector general to pursue cases of police misconduct. This idea maybe a good first step, but will the community or its political representatives have full input into the framework of how this would be done?

The time has come to exert maximum pressure upon Black and Latino politicians. They must all be made to take a stand and demand democratic accountability in the decision-making process of police policy in Black and Brown neighborhoods. While we hear talk of an inspector general, shouldn’t we also insist on implementation of a special prosecutor system to prosecute police cases, so, we don’t get shady verdicts—especially like the ones we got in the Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell cases?

Local prosecutors, no matter how they claim to be non-biased, will do everything in their power to torpedo cases where they have to prosecute their police friends. Remember, police and prosecutors work together. Troublingly, besides a special prosecutor, we may also need a special court with judges who aren’t incestuously connected to the local legal apparatus.

For now, we must demand that all Black and Latino politicians speak up against Stop-and-Frisk and the prejudiced policies of the NYPD.



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