New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board’s new executive director, Joan Thompson, will hear plenty of complaints from New Yorkers who argue that charges against Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s officers often don’t result in any discipline at all, says Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff. Thompson says a critical report on the board by the New York Civil Liberties Union provides “something for me to work on.” The report said the board “has historically closed about 50 percent of police-conduct complaints without initiating an investigation: between 2002 and 2005 the ‘truncation’ rate increased to 55 percent”–as it did the next year.
Hentoff asks why so few of the investigated complaints are substantiated when contrasted with the rates of civil-complaint agencies around the country. Hentoff doubts that New Yorkers are more easily bruised, more hypersensitive to authority, than other Americans. The report quotes the board as saying that on any given day, half of all police officers scheduled for an interview–including witnesses and those named in a complaint–fail to appear. Hentoff asks whether Kelly can require officers to show up for these interviews.