New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has given lawyers from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the independent agency that investigates allegations of police abuse, authority to prosecute police officers in cases now handled exclusively by the department's lawyers, reports the New York Times. The changes are similar to a plan from 2001, when the Giuliani administration and Kelly's predecessor, Bernard Kerik, tried to reinforce the public's confidence in the department at a turbulent time.
The plan died after a battle with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association led to an unfavorable split court decision in 2003. While the decision merely struck down where the trials could take place, it also lessened the resolve of public officials to give the review board the power to prosecute police officers at all. When the public spotlight moved on, the plan was forgotten. Patrick Lynch, the association's leader, criticized the new plan, suggesting a new fight this time around. “This change is nothing more than a cynical public relations stunt, designed to placate the usual police critics,” he said in a statement.