Concerns about police-community relations after the Sean Bell shooting in New York City prompted Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration to examine the board that investigates claims of police abuse, says the New York Times. The review led the mayor to announce an increase in funds for it. The $1.5 million increase will allow the Civilian Complaint Review Board to retain 25 more staff members. It has a budget of about $10 million. The 14-year-old board has been struggling with an increasing number of complaints.
Complaints against police officers rose to 7,774 last year, compared with 4,612 in 2002. In that same period, the board's annual budget remained static and the number of full-time employees has remained the same, around 185. The surge in complaints was largely due to the 311 telephone system instituted in 2003. Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that more funds for the board are “nice, but that will not address the serious issues of police misconduct raised by the Bell shooting.” He argued that “the board needs to be much more aggressive in investigating policy issues, not just individual complaints of misconduct, and the Police Department must be much more responsive to the board recommendations.” The the number of unresolved cases at the board last year was 3,739, compared with 2,149 in 2002, a 74 percent increase.