Retired NYPD Chief of Transit among top cop Sewell’s two picks to Civilian Complaint Review Board

Retired Chief Joseph Fox.
Retired Chief Joseph Fox. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Retired NYPD Chief of Transit Joseph Fox was named Thursday to the independent Civilian Complaint Review Board to evaluate complaints against police officers that are filed by the public.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell appointed Fox, a 36-year NYPD veteran who led the department’s Transit Bureau for six years before retiring in 2018. Fox, after supervising more than 2,600 officers, was highly respected by the rank-and-file for being fair and approachable. He is now a public speaker/executive leadership coach and life coach.

Sewell also named to the board Charlane Brown, a lifelong New Yorker and former deputy inspector of the NYPD, who currently works as a lawyer and professor of criminal justice and law enforcement at Berkley College. Brown served in the NYPD for 26 years.

The commissioner said in a statement, “The CCRB serves an important role in the public oversight of the NYPD. Joseph Fox and Charlane Brown are both highly skilled, dedicated professionals who are deeply committed to the people we serve. With the new appointments, the CCRB is even better positioned to fulfill its mission.”

“I never played favorites in my life – I was always about fairness and justice for people being treated fairly and that includes citizens and police officers,” Fox said. “I’ve stood up against mistreatment in all forms, and that is why I signed on. I thank the commissioner and mayor for being aware of my connectivity with police officers and the city that continues to give me relevance.”

Over his years as an NYPD commander, Fox said he has investigated many instances of abuse and has “taken it upon himself to take an active role.” He said he has taken actions against abuse by police officers that have even led to firings.

“I’ve seen both situations where things looked really bad, but I took time to investigate and found many of these instances to be proper and instances where not and took appropriate actions,” Fox said. “Of course, I was never a supervisor or leader who thought it was others job to bring discipline. But I applaud the overwhelming number of officers who are hard working and are the heart and soul who put themselves on the line every day.”

Fox became involved in community meetings as far back as 1986, when he was an anti-crime sergeant in Sheepshead Bay and became close with community regulars, something that would define the rest of his career.

When he took the helm at the Transit Bureau, Fox recalled, he learned that it lacked a Community Affairs unit — so he created one because, in his words, “transit is community.”

Chief Joseph Fox left his headquarters in Brooklyn on his retirement to a huge crowd and applause. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Chief Fox honored by the NY Press Photographers Association in 2015.

Brown, meanwhile, thanked Mayor Eric Adams and the commissioner in a statement:

“As a born and raised New Yorker, serving this city has been my lifelong passion,” she said. “Joining the CCRB is the perfect opportunity for me to utilize all the skills I Have acquired throughout my life as an officer, a lawyer, a professor, a New Yorker, and someone who has raised young boys of color in this great city.”

Formed in 1953, the CCRB is empowered to receive, investigate, prosecute, mediate, hear, make findings, and recommend action upon complaints filed against members of the NYPD that allege the use of excessive or unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or the use of offensive language.

The agency is headed by a 15-member board, five appointed by the city council, five by the mayor, one by the public advocate, three designated by the police commissioner, and finally, the chair, jointly appointed by the speaker and the mayor; none may be current public employees.

The CCRB was particularly busy in 2020 during the outburst of anger against police after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police. Massive protests against police brutality spilled into numerous cities including New York City where protestors taunted and sometimes even assaulted officers while a few committed vandalism and looting.

In some cases, officers lashed out at protestors leading to claims of brutality, some of which resulted in suspensions and disciplinary proceedings.

As of Feb. 23, there were 7,623 dating back to 2006, complaints filed with the CCRB, according to its website.

Statistics for CCRB through Feb. 2023