The Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), New York City’s independent police watchdog, is supporting a City Council bill introduced by Council Member Adrienne Adams of Queens that would allow it to initiate an investigation into potential NYPD misconduct on its own. Currently, city law requires the board to receive a complaint from a member of the public.
“People are vulnerable. They are victims. And they often don’t know how to file a complaint,” said Rev. Frederick Davie, the agency’s chairperson, speaking at a City Council meeting on Monday.
Davie said the agency’s current process for launching probes is outdated. Today, he argued, the board frequently sees evidence of potential police misconduct on social media.
“We live in an age where technology has changed rapidly,” Davie said. “We have the ability to see events unfold in real time like we’ve never had before.”
According to the CCRB, gaining this new authority could result in approximately five hundred more investigations for the agency annually. Last year, civilians filed more than 3,800 complaints with the agency.
In response to a request for comment, the NYPD referred Gothamist/WNYC to the department’s own city council testimony on Monday, which focused on other unrelated pieces of legislation and did not specifically reference the police oversight agency.
Critics have long faulted the CCRB for, in their view, lacking the authority to hold police accountable for misconduct. Three of the board’s 15 members are appointed by the police commissioner. One of the NYPD designees serves on every panel overseeing complaints, and the police commissioner has final say over whether officers face discipline.
Earlier this year, the board acquired new authority to probe allegations of sexual misconduct and false statements. The expanded jurisdiction prompted a court challenge by police unions, but in a ruling earlier this month, the Supreme Court of the State of New York upheld the rule changes that broadened the watchdog agency's new investigatory powers.