New Yorkers seeking to report instances of police brutality by phone in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy had a more difficult time doing so, and the number of complaints dropped drastically as a result. Citizens who called 311 to report misconduct in November, December, and January weren't able to be transferred directly to the Civilian Complaint Review Board's hotline because the storm damaged the line. Callers were instead given a different number to reach the CCRB, adding an extra step to the process. According to Marcos Soler, the CCRB's deputy executive director for policy, the agency usually receives an average of 249 complaints by phone each month—for the last three months, the average dropped to 29.
"We completely understand as an agency the impact that this had on our ability to receive complaints," Soler said, adding that the usual 800-number was restored yesterday. "Any impact for the ability of the public to reach us is going to have an effect on complaint activity. We have learned our lesson." The CCRB's offices were severely damaged after the storm, and the agency wasn't able to return to 40 Rector Street until late last month.
Soler says that 50% of the total cases handled by the CCRB are taken by phone, but notes that citizens can file complaints on the agency's website, at a precinct, by mail, or in person. "For those people who weren't able to file a complaint over the last three months, they can still do so today. We can still address their issue—the statute of limitations is 18 months."