NYC police watchdogs, NYPD feud over what data to share in bias, racial profiling investigations

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — More than 100 racial bias and profiling cases against cops are stalled by disagreement with the Police Department over what evidence to consider in the probes, the Civilian Complaint Review Board says.

Under terms of a law passed by the City Council last year, the CCRB took over from the New York Police Department investigations of cases where cops are accused of racial profiling or showing bias during an encounters with citizens.

Under the new law, the CCRB can look back as much as five years for cases in which the officer may also have been accused of racial profiling or bias.

The CCRB can also look at other officers in the same command for evidence bias might be widespread among an accused officer’s colleagues.

Having such knowledge can help evaluate charges against officers and combat bias in the Police Department, said CCRB executive director Jonathan Darche in recent testimony to the City Council.

“If someone was saying their car was stopped because they were Black, then we would want to see the data behind the car stops — not just by that (officer) but by other (officers) in that command at that time, over a period of time, at the location or in similar locations,” Darche said.

That would help the CCRB “see if there is a pattern of officers taking actions based on someone’s race,” Darche said.

Darche said a thorough review could exonerate an accused officer — or, if bias was substantiated, conclude that the officer was carrying out orders from a supervisor.

But for now, the NYPD says, it is only providing information about the specific incidents behind each complaint. “We are working with the CCRB to identify additional data necessary to support their investigations,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

Law enforcement sources said the NYPD is concerned that checking five years’ of an officer’s history, or of his colleagues, might lead to investigations of other officers — not just those involved in the incident at hand.

The CCRB is currently investigating 111 claims of bias or profiling. The statute of limitations for each investigation is 18 months.

“In order to avoid further case backlogs or cases passing the statute of limitations, we hope our requests will be filled as soon as possible,” a CCRB spokeswoman said in a statement.

Darche testified to the City Council that he believes “we’re close to having an agreement.”

But City Councilwoman Shahana Hanif, a Democrat, wasn’t buying it.

“I know you’re trying to be deeply respectful of the work that you have to do with the PD (Police Department),” Hanif told Darche. “They’re not transparent and they’re moving with all sort of funny machinations to prevent New Yorkers from receiving justice.”

Several police sources said the department is concerned the CCRB will substantiate bias and profiling claims without merit.

Between 2014 and 2021, the NYPD investigated 3,480 bias and profiling complaints, and substantiated only four, according to a report by the department’s federal monitor.