New York’s attorney general has recommended that New York City‘s mayor give up sole control over the NYPD commissioner’s hiring among several sweeping changes aimed at restoring New Yorkers faith in the police.
In a preliminary report released on Wednesday on her probe into the policing of recent protests, Letitia James urged for the creation of a new commission that would take over control of the hiring.
It would also have final say on the department’s budget and disciplining of officers.
‘It is impossible to deny that many New Yorkers have lost faith in law enforcement,’ James said of the report.
‘We must address the breakdown in trust between the police and our communities.’
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New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday recommended that New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio give up sole control over the city’s police commissioner’s hiring
A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, pictured, criticized the commission recommendation
James said on the preliminary report’s release that New Yorkers had lost faith in the NYPD
The commission would include representatives from the mayor, the City Council, the public advocate and the comptroller, who would have control over hiring and promotion of senior New York Police Department officials.
‘There should be an entirely new accountability structure for NYPD,’ James said in her report, noting that ‘the public lacks a way to have meaningful input on the policies and major decisions that NYPD chooses to make’.
‘The commission should also hire and, if necessary, terminate the NYPD Commissioner as well as approve all promotions above the rank of captain,’ the 57-page report says.
New Yorkers ‘no longer trust the police’ in the wake of the BLM protests, Attorney General’s report finds
New Yorkers no longer trust the police after the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed, the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, found in a preliminary report.
It concluded that ’too many New Yorkers no longer trust the police to do their jobs effectively and fairly’.
The report, investigating police encounters during widespread protests, does not feature a review on the performance of individual officers.
Members of the public, government officials, and community leaders were invited to provide written and oral testimony.
In total, there were more than 300 submitted pieces of written testimony and 17 hours of oral testimony.
The use of pepper spray by NYPD during the protests was also questioned during the report.
NYYD commissioner Shea disagreed with allegations that the force had overused pepper spray, suggesting officers had shown ‘incredible restraint’.
Data provided by the commissioner revealed fewer than ten officers were disciplined for behavior during the protests.
Her investigation began in May after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was alarmed by ‘disturbing violent clashes’ between NYPD officers and New Yorkers protesting against police violence, sparked by the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd.
She did not rule out criminal charges.
James told reporters on a conference call her investigation was ongoing and a final report and set of recommendations would be released later.
‘The police should not police themselves – period,’ James, a Democrat, told reporters.
‘It’s really important that we think of major reforms and not tinkering around the edges.’
In the meantime, she outlined several reforms intended to restore New Yorkers’ faith in law enforcement.
She made clear that none of her recommendations are binding upon city leaders but portrayed her report as a blueprint for transforming accountability in the nation’s largest police department.
Mayor Bill de Blasio quickly shot down the prospect of an independent police commission, with a City Hall spokeswoman saying ‘change comes from accountability, something a commission lacks’.
‘If we want to continue moving forward, more bureaucracy is not the answer,’ de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said in a statement.
De Blasio has come under fire in recent weeks after a surge in shootings in NYC.
Last week he confirmed a hefty $1 billion budget cut for the NYPD amid calls from protesters. The money will be shifted from policing to education and social services.
In addition to a new oversight committee, James called for decriminalizing ‘quality of life’ offenses like jaywalking and a ‘statewide certification process that would prevent bad officers from simply being passed from one agency to another’.
‘Everything should be on the table,’ the attorney general said. ‘The ultimate goal must be democratizing policing to create trust and systems worthy of that trust.’
James also recommended NYPD officers be required to live within the five boroughs ‘so that they better reflect the communities they are required to serve and protect’.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on James to compile the report after he was alarmed by ‘disturbing violent clashes’ between NYPD officers and New Yorkers protesting against police violence. Pictured, a clash outside City Hall on July 1
James said Wednesday the investigation is ongoing but she made preliminary recommendations aimed at addressing the break down in trust between NYPD and community
Pat Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said James’ report ‘tells only one side of the story and delivers reheated proposals that have been part of the anti-police agenda for decades.’
‘If the goal is to heal the rift between police officers and the public, that won’t be achieved without giving meaningful consideration to the perspective of police officers on the street,’ he said in a statement.
James’ report followed harrowing testimony about New York City police officers slamming peaceful protesters to the ground, kicking a woman in the face and beating people with batons.
The attorney general said she had received more than 1,300 submissions over the past month, and that most of the complaints involved NYPD officers using excessive force, ‘indiscriminate use of pepper spray, brandishing firearms at protesters, and pushing vehicles or bikes into protesters’.
Other complaints concerned ‘troubling arrest-related practices,’ including the use of ‘extremely tight zip ties’ misgendering detainees and holding protesters in cramped cells.
The violent clashes between NYPD and protesters included an incident when New York police officer Vincent D’Andraia, right, pushed protester Dounya Zayer to the ground, pictured above
In one instance, an NYPD officer was seen on video shoving a young woman to the ground, resulting in her suffering a concussion, while another filmed incident showed an officer pulling down the mask of a protester before pepper-spraying him in the face.
Cuomo had blasted de Blasio’s handing of the protests calling it a ‘disgrace’.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told James last month that fewer than 10 officers were being disciplined for alleged misconduct toward protesters, including one suspended without pay and later charged with assault after he was caught on camera shoving a woman to the ground. Shea said he was ‘very disturbed’ by the incident.
De Blasio has said the city complied with James’ investigation and pointed to recent steps to reform the police department, including disbanding the plainclothes anti-crime unit and the recent budget cut.
Criticism of the mayor comes as violent crime in the Big Apple spikes. Shootings in New York City have doubled every week for the last three weeks.
Last week, the city has experienced a 142 percent surge in shootings compared to the same time period last year.
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