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Independent panel of experts to review NYPD disciplinary practices

The goal is to improve public confidence in the way the NYPD polices its own officers while also boosting officers’ trust for a fair outcome, officials said. The police union says the move will bring more “heavy-handed” punishment.

The NYPD will have an independent panel review

The NYPD will have an independent panel review its disciplinary practices. Photo Credit: Theodore Parisienne

The NYPD has set up an outside panel of experts to review its disciplinary practices, a move the police union believes will lead to more “heavy-handed” punishment.

In making the announcement Thursday, police brass said the goal was to improve public confidence in the way the NYPD polices its own officers while also boosting officers’ trust for a fair outcome.

“Over the past five years the NYPD has made important strides in how the department administers discipline,” Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in a news release. “As we build deeper trust with the people we are sworn to protect, we must ensure that our systems for confirming that our officers are doing their jobs justly, fairly and effectively are also working justly, fairly and effectively for our officers and for the people of our city.”

The department handles discipline internally, but an independent agency, the New York Civilian Complaint Review Board, has the power to investigate complaints against NYPD officer and recomment action to the police commissioner.

The NYPD has been under a microscope for the way it has handled police-involved deaths, including the 2014 case of Eric Garner, who died in an apparent chokehold.

The panel consists of three volunteers — Mary Jo White, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, which encompasses Manhattan; Robert L. Capers, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, which covers Long Island; and Barbara S. Jones, a former U.S. District Court judge for the Southern district.

They will “review exhaustedly” how disciplinary cases are initiated, prosecuted and resolved and whether the punishment fits the violation. The panel is expected to consult with citizen advocates and identify the most effective programs and reforms.

O’Neill wants the panel’s findings and recommendations within 120 days.

But PBA President Patrick J. Lynch doubted “yet another team of professional scrutinizers” will help the police commissioner.

“The NYPD’s operations — including its disciplinary processes — are already monitored and reviewed more intensely than those of almost any other government agency,” he said in a statement.

The union head predicted his members won’t get a fair outcome: “This new panel will undoubtedly increase the pressure on the NYPD to mete out unjustly heavy-handed discipline, further damaging police officers’ morale and due process rights.”

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