Review of NYPD policies leads to reforms
A retired judge tasked with reviewing NYPD policies in the wake of a federal stop-and-frisk lawsuit has laid out a series of police reforms in a sweeping report
By John Annese
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — A retired judge tasked with reviewing NYPD policies in the wake of a federal stop-and-frisk lawsuit has laid out a series of police reforms in a sweeping report Tuesday.
Ariel Belen, the "facilitator" assigned to help the NYPD's independent monitor, called for several changes to police policy — from creating a centralized process to track various forms of cop misconduct, to issuing monthly reports on discipline against police officers, to developing standards on how they are penalized for misconduct.
The Tuesday report comes after dozens of focus group meetings and powwows with advocacy groups and police officers.
Belen is assigned to assist Peter Zimroth, the monitor put in place by Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin, who in 2013 ruled that the NYPD's stop and frisk tactic was applied unconstitutionally.
Scheindlin also ordered the NYPD to start using body cameras.
Belen recommends that officers be required to turn on their cameras during basic encounters with the public, where officers ask civilians "basic, non-threatening questions regarding, for instance, identity, address or destination."
His report also calls for a centralized process that tracks cases where prosecutors don't pursue charges, instances where evidence is suppressed by a judge or where courts find an officer's testimony less than credible, when the city law department refuses to represent a cop in a lawsuit, and when the city settles a suit against the NYPD.
Belen's report also advocates the repeal of Section 50-a of the 1976 state civil rights code, which the NYPD has used to keep disciplinary records from the public.
Police reform advocates said that the NYPD still hasn't done enough to limit stop-and-frisks.
"The decrease in the overall number of stop-and-frisks being reported by the NYPD is inaccurate and presents a false picture of reality on the ground in communities," Communities United for Police Reform spokeswoman Linda Tigani said.
The advocacy group called for a more transparent police discipline system, quarterly reports for all low-level encounters between police and the public, and the creation of an independent community board to review whether the NYPD is complying with the federal court's rulings.
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