NYPD is not learning enough from lawsuits against the department, DOI says

The NYPD is not adequately tracking and learning from trends in lawsuits and claims filed against the department, according to a new report.

The Department of Investigation looked at the number of claims filed in six precincts to show that information could be gleaned from analyzing these types of cases.

Using data from 2013 to 2016, the report looked at case volume involving allegations such as false arrests or use of force. The DOI tracked whether those allegations were increasing or decreasing, which varied depending on the precinct.

“Data from litigation can be a useful tool in identifying and correcting potential policing problems,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in a statement, adding the data “can reveal significant patterns and trends that can be furthered studied by the NYPD.”

According to the report, currently the city comptroller’s office, the Law Department and the NYPD all track different information from claims.

And when the NYPD does identify a potential problem from litigation data, the DOI’s report said the department doesn’t address it through formal channels. Instead, it tends to be dealt with through an informal discussion with commanders, effectively keeping the policy recommendation from being implemented department wide.

The DOI recommends several fixes, including that the NYPD add more workers to focus on analyzing departmentwide litigation trends, create internal reports that look at trends to share with those in department leadership roles, and create public reports about the general nature of claims and the current state of potential policy changes.

An NYPD spokesman said in an email that the department “welcomes the conversation on civil lawsuits and is constantly striving to improve,” but added many of the DOI’s recommendations already have been implemented.

“Much has been achieved as a result of these efforts, including the dramatic reductions in new notices of claim, new lawsuits and new CCRB excessive use of force complaints against police officers,” he said. “Regrettably these significant downward trends were not adequately reflected in this report.”