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Report: No proven bias cases against NYPD officers over 4 years

An NYPD watchdog group found no substantiated allegations

An NYPD watchdog group found no substantiated allegations of biased policing by department officers from late 2014 to early 2017. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The NYPD could not substantiate any allegations of “biased policing” by its officers, including ethnic slurs and racial profiling, made from late 2014 to early 2017, according to a report released Wednesday by a city policing watchdog group. 

But the report by Philip Eure, the city inspector general for the NYPD, found inadequacies in how the department investigated and tracked biased policing complaints.

Eure, in his 57-page report, said his office surveyed 888 bias allegations filed against cops between late 2014 and early 2017, many of which dealt with complaints of discriminatory policing based on race or ethnicity. The NYPD, Eure said, was unable to prove any of the allegations of biased policing in that period from the cases surveyed. The biased policing complaint classification has been in use by the inspector general’s office since 2014.

The lack of substantiated bias cases noted in Eure’s findings in some ways mirrored a report released earlier this year by federal court monitor Peter Zimroth. In his report, Zimroth determined that allegations of racial profiling by police were almost impossible to prove.

“Proving bias against an individual officer is difficult because it requires a conclusion about that officer’s state of mind,” Zimroth noted in January.

Eure said his report found in some instances, NYPD investigators tracking bias allegations misclassified complaints and failed to provide officers with enough training to investigate them.

“Biased policing, actual or perceived, undermines the core value of equal treatment under the law and also poses a threat to public safety because racial profiling and other types of biased policing undermine the public’s confidence and trust in law enforcement,” Eure said in a statement.

He noted that the NYPD doesn’t investigate allegations of racial slurs alone with no claim of other police action under the category of biased policing, referring those cases instead to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The CCRB may refer those cases to the NYPD for discipline later, Eure said.

In response to Eure’s report, the NYPD said in a statement that biased policing complaints were down more than 33.1 percent from May 31, 2018, to the same period this year. The department has imposed more discipline on the substantiated cases of “racial or protected-class slurs,” the NYPD said, than any other major city police department in the country.

“Importantly, the instances cited in the [Eure] report represent less than .001% of the millions of annual NYPD interactions with the public,” the statement said, adding the report didn’t capture the full impact of police department reforms implemented since 2014.

And while the Eure’s staff highlighted a number of bias policing allegations, his office “did not identify a single allegation out of the 888 they reviewed that they believe should have been substantiated on the basis of the available evidence — underscoring the difficulty in proving these allegations,” the NYPD said.

In January, Zimroth, a special monitor appointed by a federal judge to oversee reforms to settle litigation over police stop and frisk, issued his own report that in part, dealt with profiling allegations. Zimroth found that from 2017 through the end of 2018, out of a total of 1,722 profiling allegations leveled against cops, charges were unsubstantiated in 792 cases, meaning no credible evidence existed that the officer committed the offense.

The remaining cases either weren’t substantiated, were unfounded, or led to outright exoneration of the officers, Zimroth said. Some 54 allegations cleared cops of profiling claims but substantiated other allegations of misconduct, he noted.

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