The Civilian Complaint Review Board might as well change its name to the Civilian Complaint Review Ignored. Complaints about police misconduct will hit a record high this year, but the CCRB's budget has been slashed. 26 investigators are being cut from the payroll, so half of the cases will be dropped because investigators can't meet the 18-month statute of limitations. It gets worse.
Even when they do meet the statute of limitations, nothing much happens. Today the Times puts a human face on the CCRB's shortcomings, interviewing one Joseph Diaz, who filed a complaint back in 2007 accusing a cop of harassment and racial profiling. Diaz was sitting outside his Bronx building when, he says, an officer demanded to see his ID. Diaz, 58, refused, telling the officer, "For 40 years, I live in this building. Did you see me do something? Did you get a call on me? You can’t profile me." A week later the cop returned, and when Diaz again refused to show ID, he says the officer "used force" to handcuff and frisk him before ultimately letting him go.
Ten months after submitting a formal complaint to the CCRB, the board sent Diaz a letter that said their investigators substantiated that the officer "had abused his authority by stopping and detaining" him. The case was referred to the NYPD for disciplinary action, and they
got right on that sent Diaz a letter a year later saying no disciplinary action would be taken. No explanation was given. Diaz fumes, "They waited like two years and nothing happened and it just disappeared. It just disappeared like smoke."
Some say Diaz's case is indicative of CCRB impotence and are calling for reform. For instance, in 2005, the Police Department declined to prosecute just 2 percent of the cases that the review board referred to it, but so far this year the department has declined to prosecute 40 percent of the cases. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne maintains that department prosecutors are simply being more selective about what cases to pursue, and the conviction rate at departmental trials had risen to 60 percent from 30 percent in 2004. He tells the Times, "It would be unfair and counterproductive, and a waste of scarce police resources, to move forward with a case which is incapable of being proven in the trial room."