New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board has been given new powers to prosecute police officers for misconduct, giving “teeth and transparency” to the process, reports the New York Times. The wide new powers for CCRB lawyers were part of an agreement city officials reached on Tuesday. The changes follow a period in which the Police Department has withstood an onslaught of corruption cases and increased scrutiny on several fronts, including its surveillance and stop-and-frisk practices, the integrity of its crime data and its use of force in policing Occupy Wall Street protests.
The changes are intended to shine light on a police disciplinary process that critics have long said is murky and secretive. The agreement means that board lawyers, instead of police agency employees, will act as prosecutors in cases in which board members have substantiated wrongdoing by officers and have recommended that the most serious kinds of internal, or administrative, discipline be handed out. From 2007 through 2011, the board substantiated an average of 200 cases annually that it referred to the police so officers could be put on trial by departmental lawyers before an administrative judge who also was a Police Department employee.