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New watchdog named to oversee NYPD

Philip K. Eure is appointed the first NYPD

Philip K. Eure is appointed the first NYPD inspector general on March 28, 2014. Credit: John Roca

The de Blasio administration Friday named the city's first-ever inspector general to oversee the police department, a post created over the veto of the former mayor but embraced by the current one.

Philip K. Eure, who starts May 27, helped establish a similar watchdog office to monitor Washington, D.C.'s police force -- a job he's held for nearly 14 years. The 52-year-old Harvard-trained lawyer and former federal civil rights attorney is the past president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.

Eure said he sees his task as "enhancing police accountability, building confidence of the police and respecting civil rights." While much of what he tackles will be broad NYPD policies -- "stop-and-frisk is going to be on the radar screen," Eure said -- he didn't rule out investigating individual cases of police misconduct.

The NYPD inspector general's office was created last year by the City Council amid complaints over the force's stop-and-frisk practice and surveillance of Muslims. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg bitterly opposed the office.

Police unions also objected. Most were quiet on Eure's appointment. But the head of the Captains Endowment Association, Roy Richter, said he isn't opposed to the office so long as it doesn't interfere with officers' crime-fighting mission.

"The police department has some failings, and that's the reason why this position has been created," Richter said.

Niaz Kasravi, the NAACP's national criminal justice director, hailed the appointment.

"Creating greater accountability, rebuilding the public's trust and improving relations between communities and law enforcement is long overdue after decades of stop-and-frisk abuses and other forms of racial profiling in New York City," Kasravi said.

Eure has studied the phenomenon of "contempt of cop" -- an officer's misusing laws such as disorderly conduct not to combat illegal conduct but to punish only perceived disrespect.

In the nation's capital, Eure sometimes butted heads with police and union officials, and he accused that department of refusing to discipline officers uncooperative with his probes. Former D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey once said: "I'm not going to have my officers railroaded."

Eure received a warmer reception from NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, who interviewed him for the job, as did Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters, to whom the inspector general reports.

"I am sure we will have a collegial and collaborative relationship going forward," Bratton told reporters. "I think he will hit the ground in a very informed way."

Peters rebutted criticism voiced last year by people who said that the existence of the inspector general's office would confuse the rank-and-file over who's in charge.

"I don't think there's any confusion as to whose orders to be taking," Peters said.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

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