Former CCRB staff are filing an amicus brief in federal court today. Here’s why:

  1. Police misconduct is vigorously investigated by the CCRB. Investigators undergo extensive training on collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses, including police officers, and their work is reviewed by layers of mid-level CCRB staff before a recommendation is made. Importantly, for the purposes of this lawsuit, we explain that police officers’ personal information is not part of these investigations or the resulting reports, which is the one of the main arguments the police unions are making in opposition to the publication of CCRB data.
  2. The CCRB uses four different determinations for an allegation, including “substantiated”, which means there is clear evidence that misconduct took place. The other terms are often confusing to the public, even misleading, and that’s one of the issues in this case. In particular, the most common outcomes, “unsubstantiated” doesn’t mean an allegation didn’t happen (as the police unions are insinuating in this lawsuit), but rather that investigators could not find enough evidence that it happen to clear a high evidentiary bar. Explaining these terms is essential for the public to understand why the CCRB makes the determinations it does. For example, if the CCRB is “exonerating” a problematic allegation because it comports with NYPD policy, the issue is not with the CCRB; instead, it means we need to change NYPD policy.
  3. Finally, we discuss how the publication of the CCRB database will allow the agency to better fulfill its mission to investigate alleged misconduct and inform the public of policing practices. At a moment when public trust in the NYPD is frayed, publication of the database will increase transparency and accountability, and actually assist the CCRB in how it understands its own role.

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Janos Marton

Janos Marton

Criminal justice advocate. Democratic Candidate For Manhattan District Attorney.