The New York Police Department named a new task force of outside law-enforcement officials to review internal disciplinary policies that have come under criticism for their ambiguity and secrecy, reports the Wall Street Journal. First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker said the panel will look at how the department disciplines officers, the penalties for officer misconduct and how the discipline fits an officer’s behavior. “It’s a bright light moment,” Tucker said. “We’re giving ourselves yet another opportunity to think about ways in which we might improve what we’re doing in the process.” Lawrence Byrne, Deputy Commissioner of Legal Affairs, said the panel review would last 120 days, and its report will be available to the public.
The panel includes three former federal prosecutors: Mary Jo White, who chaired the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, will lead the effort, along with Robert Capers, a former prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, and Barbara Jones, a former judge in the Southern District of New York. For years, the NYPD made disciplinary information of officers public but stopped in 2016, citing a state civil rights law. Police officials and Mayor Bill de Blasio have said the law shields the “personnel records” of officers from the public. They have called for the law to be changed by the state government. The Cuomo administration said the city changed its interpretation of the law. The NYPD handles disciplinary matters internally. Officials from Civilian Complaint Review Board, an agency that investigates civilian complaints against police, serve as the prosecution in many cases. Police Commissioner James O’Neill has final say over the punishment of the officer. The system has been criticized by advocates and legal officials for a lack of transparency and inconsistency in the punishment given to officers.