The NYPD has ignored for more than two years a city law requiring it to reveal statistics about officer misconduct, the Daily News has learned.
Police admitted the omission and said the information would soon be on its website.
The department declined to say why the data had not been posted, but City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) said there is a simple explanation: the NYPD’s first instinct when it comes to information is to withhold it.
’I think the NYPD has learned that the more the council and the public know about the racial disparities in policing and the lack of police accountability within the NYPD the more heat the NYPD gets to change its policies and reform its practices,” Lancman said.
“So they’ve obviously decided that withholding information they’re legally required to produce is more important to them than abandoning racially disparate practices and disciplinary processes that let officers engage in misconduct with impunity.”
The Deployment Law, a local ordinance, took effect Oct. 1, 2016. It requires police to report annually the number and percentage of cops in each police command with misconduct markers on their records: at least two substantiated civilian complaints or the use of excessive force in the prior three years, a suspension in the prior five years, or an unsealed arrest back 10 years.
The data is considered useful in spotting trends; for instance if a police unit was linked to numerous brutality complaints. It does not name officers or provide specifics that could reveal a cop’s identity.
The law requires police to post the data on the day the ordinance went into effect, and thereafter every February. But as of last week, only the 2016 data had been posted and, as Lancman noted, the numbers aren’t broken down by category of misconduct as required.
“So even with the information they have posted,” Lancman said, “what they have produced is practically useless.’’
A candidate for Queens District Attorney, Lancman said he learned almost by chance about the missing information.
Having sued the NYPD for not fully complying with a law requiring police to disclose data about fare evasion enforcement, Lancman checked if police were adhering to other laws.
The City Council also requires the NYPD to release stop and frisk data, but when it did so in Feb. 2007 it was discovered that such data had not been posted since late 2003.
How the NYPD tracks officer misconduct and disciplines its own has been headline news over the past few years. In 2016, the department stopped releasing to the media summaries of internal disciplinary proceedings against officers, reversing 40 years of practice. It cited Section 50-a of the state’s civil rights law for its action.
Section 50-a specifies that personnel records of police, firefighters and correction officers should be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without an individual’s written consent except if mandated by a court order. In the event of a court order, the personnel records in question are sealed and sent to a judge, who evaluates their relevance and releases to a petitioner only those sections deemed relevant by a judge.