Commissioner Bill Bratton, Mayor de Blasio's choice to lead the NYPD to a new age of transparency and discipline, turned away 25% of police misconduct findings by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, opting to ignore their recommendations for disciplining misbehaving officers. This is around the same rejection rate that former commissioner Raymond Kelly maintained before leaving office at the beginning of the year.
"I suggest you come back in six months and see how we’re doing,” Bratton told the New York Times in a phone interview yesterday."Based on my eight months sitting in that chair, my sense was that CCRB was significantly overcharging and overpenalizing.”
The CCRB makes recommendations to the commissioner of disciplinary action that should be taken against officers who have been found to have committed "misconduct." The cases that Bratton failed to heed the recommendations of the CCRB on included stop-and-frisk encounters in Manhattan, a home entered by NYPD without justification in Brooklyn, and racial slurs being used by transit officers. The discipline that the board recommended, which Bratton had deemed "overpenalizing," included something as punitive as the loss of vacation days or a simple reminder of the rules (i.e. Don't go into homes you don't have a warrant to enter mkay?).
The disclosure of Bratton's rejection rate comes on the heels of the head of the CCRB admitting he's not quite sure what his job is or whether his office should exist at all.
In a long soliloquy at the latest public meeting of the CCRB, CCRB head Richard Emery admitted, "I haven’t figured out how [the CCRB] should work even in my own mind for purposes of discussion. I’m completely at sea on this because it’s so ridiculously complex and there are so many factors playing into this."
Emery then commented on the commissioner's role. "There’s this ultimate overriding authority that makes all this work kind of meaningless," Emery said. "So we have to come to a system where discipline is discipline and it’s not just some kind of recommendation to a higher authority. How you do that exactly, when the overriding authority clearly has the statutory right and the underlying right to do that, it means that Commissioner Bratton or any police commissioner has to buy in to a different process.”
This different process has yet to appear. But Bratton insists that he is indeed working on it, and that better training will effectively reduce police misconduct. “A lot of things that are complained about against police officers can be corrected with training, with instruction, rather than with discipline and suspension days. We spend a lot of time on this,” he told The Times. “It is not just a willy-nilly process.”