The Civilian Complaint Review Board, New York City’s independent police watchdog, is recommending that the NYPD discipline 39 of its officers for misconduct at last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. According to a CCRB report released on Monday, the violations ranged from excessive force and untruthful statements to offensive language and discourtesy.
One of the officers slated for potential discipline is a high-level deputy inspector whom the board found to have made a retaliatory arrest last May. Another is a deputy chief whom the board determined had inappropriately seized property at a June 3rd demonstration.
Enrico Lauretta, an officer from Astoria, could also face serious discipline for flashing what appeared to be a white supremacist hand sign at a protest last June. In March, Gothamist/WNYC broke news of the pending investigation into Lauretta; the officer declined to comment on the board’s finding at the time.
During the protests last spring and summer, more than 750 residents filed complaints with the CCRB about their encounters with NYPD officers. Since the board is only allowed to investigate certain misconduct allegations, like use of excessive force and unconstitutional searches, the board ultimately determined it had investigative jurisdiction in just over 300 of the cases.
Since last summer, the agency reported it has conducted 75 full investigations, 26 of which have resulted in substantiated allegations.
More than 100 other complaint investigations stemming from last summer’s protests are pending review. According to the CCRB, their probes have been slowed by delayed paperwork from the NYPD brass and officers’ actions, including the hiding of badge numbers while on duty.
In a statement, NYPD spokesperson Sergeant Edward Riley said the department will study the board’s recommendations through the established processes between the two agencies.
Currently, the NYPD commissioner has final say over serious disciplinary matters, though some Democratic mayoral candidates have vowed to change that.
Last week, the commissioner, Dermot Shea told WNYC/Gothamist, in an exclusive interview that he will make public any of his disciplinary decisions that are at odds with the CCRB’s recommendations.
“We agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Civilian Complaint Review Board to say, you know what, when I differ from the recommendation, we'll put it in writing,” he said.
“I think, the public and the media and advocates get more and more familiar with it and comfortable with it … it's going to go a long way towards building trust,” the commissioner said.
Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, a former police captain who is running for mayor, has said the mayor, rather than the police commissioner, should have ultimate say over discipline. Other candidates have suggested the CCRB be given disciplinary authority, though such a change would require state legislation.
George Joseph is a reporter with the WNYC/Gothamist Race & Justice Unit. You can send him tips on Facebook, Twitter @georgejoseph94, Instagram @georgejoseph81, and at firstname.lastname@example.org. His phone and encrypted Signal app number is 929-486-4865.