Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced new recommendations for police procedure; the recommendations were made by a special panel formed after the shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed Queens man. The police press release (which is mis-dated according to the NY Times' CityRoom blog) reveals that there are nineteen recommendations in total, the most notable one stating that breathalyzer testing will be mandatory for all on and off-duty police officers whose "firearm discharge results in injury or death."
The alcohol testing could start in September, and though the NYPD's internal legal team found that alcohol testing would be constitutional, the detectives union believes it's still a constitutional and collective bargaining issue. Commissioner Kelly made sure to emphasize, "We have no indication, no evidence that alcohol played a role in the Sean Bell shooting," given that the officers who fired on Bell were undercover cops authorized to have two drinks. A John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor told the NY Sun that the alcohol test was good, as long as undercover detectives could still have the two-beer limit, "There has to be some provision that an officer who works in that capacity is entitled to have a couple of drinks. They're not going to go into a club and order a Coke with lemon."
The NY Times reports that the Reverend Al Sharpton and the lawyer representing Bell's fiance and two of his friends who were wounded during the shooting "offered measured supports for the panel's suggestions." Sharpton called it a "small step towards justice" while lawyer Sanford Rubenstein said, "It is positive change, and it is a first step in the right direction." Do you think alcohol testing is a good idea? Last year, there were about 40 police shootings that resulted in death or injury; recently, the NYPD has faced more critics after an off-duty police officer fatally shot a Bronx drunk driver.
The entire list of recommendations (including using actors to help train undercover officers and providing psychological screening and counseling of active undercover cops) is after the jump.
Photograph of a Sean Bell shooting protest by Justin Shockley on Flickr.
Recommendations from the NYPD's Committee for the Review of Undercover Procedures:
1. Develop methods for the psychological screening of candidates for undercover assignments
2. Provide periodic psychological screening and counseling for active undercover officers whose assignments are the most stressful in the Department and provide training for managing stress
3. Enhance scenario based training for undercovers through the use of professional actors
4. Expand the pool of potential undercovers by accepting particularly suitable candidates with less than 2 years of service and provide training tailored to their needs
5. Develop specific training for supervisors who oversee undercover operations with an emphasis on management, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills
6. Conduct a formal job analysis of the undercover assignments in order to establish a more effective performance evaluation system
7. Develop a community outreach program that educates the public about the risks, challenges and necessity of undercover operations
8. Develop a training video for officers involved in undercover operations which includes the perspectives of community leaders from the areas where operations are most often undertaken
9. Require tactical plans for undercover operations to include relevant information about the neighborhood in which the operation will take place
10. Require the administration of a Breathalyzer test in all cases in which a member of the service is involved in a firearms discharge incident, on duty or off duty, which results in injury or death
11. Clarify Department procedures regarding the consumption of alcohol by undercover officers during operations to limit such consumption to two drinks per tour and provide training on credible ways to avoid drinking altogether when pressured to do so by subjects
12. Develop a management accountability mechanism tailored to access the performance of supervisors who oversee undercover operations
13. Require the Investigations Units of the relevant Bureaus to conduct periodic inspections of tactical meetings to assess their adequacy and completeness
14. Establish a mechanism for assuring the completion of required annual firearms training by undercover officers, while assuring the security of their identities
15. Design a standard, readily identifiable, highly reflective jacket for officers use when involved in plainclothes operations
16. Provide supervisors of undercover operations with portable megaphones and install light packages and public address systems in unmarked Department vehicles so as to enhance the awareness of police presence during enforcement actions
17. Require the inspection of all members of undercover operations, prior to deployment, to assure that all required equipment is being carried and is in good working order
18. Modify the tactical plan template to include specific consideration of the placement of marked police vehicles near the set to be deployed as needed, depending on the characteristics of the site
19. Develop incentives to retain experienced and highly competent undercover officers