The Civilian Complaint Review Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to start investigating certain complaints of sexual misconduct against police officers, with an eye toward being able to investigate more serious complaints of sexual assault in the future.
The CCRB, an independent police oversight agency, has previously referred these types of cases to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau. In an 18 month period, the agency referred 117 complaints of possible sexual misconduct to IAB from Jan. 1, 2016, to June 1, 2017, according to the agency.
“We know all too well this resolution cannot in and of itself put an end to sexual misconduct . . . this resolution will not prevent those who are intent on abusing power from doing so,” said Frederick Davie, the CCRB’s acting chair. “But at the very least, this agency can and should take a step toward ensuring that officers are held accountable for their actions. This step would be good for New Yorkers and I believe this level of accountability would be good for the NYPD.”
Davie said a police officer acting sexually inappropriate was “a violation of the public’s trust in law enforcement.”
“The NYPD has been made aware of CCRB’s vote today and we will be working with them further on a number of issues relating to the implementation of this procedure,” Lt. John Grimpel said in a statement.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the police’s union, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While some board members at Wednesday evening’s monthly meeting voiced concern over ensuring investigators receive all the training necessarily to fully investigate these types of complaints, they all said they supported the initiative.
The plan will be broken into two phases: the first, effective immediately, will allow the board to handle complaints of noncriminal sexual misconduct, like inappropriate comments or making sexual or romantic propositions. The second phase, which would be implemented following consultations with advocacy groups and mental health experts, as well as further training, would include allegations like over-the-clothing groping during frisks, sexual assault, and rape.
Complaints of serious sexual misconduct covered under the second phase will continue to be referred to IAB until the board is ready to implement the second phase.
Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said he is happy the CCRB is “confronting” the issue of sexual harassment by officers.
“The issue of sexual harassment is an issue of the moment in this country, but for anyone who knows anything about policing ... we all understand that sexism has long been a part of policing around the country and in the NYPD,” he said during the board meeting, adding the resolution is “an opportunity for CCRB, and therefore the city of New York, for the first time to be reporting in a serious and thorough way the extent of sexual misconduct by members of the NYPD.”