Atlantic Cities

A Checklist for Reforming the NYPD

A Checklist for Reforming the NYPD

After several of its members met with incoming NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton last week, Communities United for Police Reform issued a report Monday recommending what New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio do with his first 100 days in office. The document, titled "Safety and Civil Rights for All New Yorkers," is as much a reminder as a recommendation: Bill de Blasio said he would change the NYPD, and this is how we think he should do it. Here's the Cliff Notes version of what Communities United for Police Reform would like to see from de Blasio's first 100 days: 

  1. Drop policies like "bias-based profiling, abuse of stop-and-frisk, and surveillance of Muslim communities," and replace them with "policies and practices that ensure safety and respect for the rights and dignity of all New Yorkers, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, housing status, socio-economic status, occupation, and language."
  2. Stop arresting people and issuing summonses for "quality of life offenses like possession of small amounts of marijuana, trespass and disorderly conduct."
  3. Make the NYPD transparent; something de Blasio dinged the agency for when he was public advocate. 
  4. Institute a zero-tolerance policy for police misconduct (which would be tantamount to declaring war on the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association).
  5. Rather than just adhering to arrest quotas, come up with more nuanced performance measures. CPR recommends measuring the "legal sufficiency of enforcement activities [and the] ability to build community relationships and trust." The Brennan Center also has some good ideas for how to change policing incentives. 
  6. Implement the The End NYPD Discriminatory Profiling Act and the End Discriminatory Profiling and the NYPD Oversight Act (both of which were passed in 2013 in response to the outcry over stop and frisk), and use data collection and analysis to make sure officers comply with the law. 
  7. Invite external researchers and analysts to help the NYPD retrain.
  8. Appoint a political progressive to be commissioner of NYC's Department of Investigation, make sure that person will work with the NYPD Inspector General, and give both offices plenty of funding and require the NYPD to cooperate with their investigations.  
  9. Issue an executive order requiring NYPD patrolmen to inform the people they stop that they don't have to consent to a search, and a second executive order requiring officers to "identify themselves, explain the reasons for the law enforcement action in question and provide information about how to file a complaint or commend officers for professional and courteous behavior." 
  10. Implement the mandates in Judge Shira A. Scheindlin's stop-and-frisk ruling. While one of those remedies was the use of on-body cameras by NYPD patrolmen, a representative of CPR says, "The report did not list the body cameras as a priority and CPR has not taken a position on that."  
  11. End public housing police abuses while improving public housing with "effective security measures for all buildings, including doors, locks, lighting, cameras, and non-police civilian employees who perform the doorman function."
  12. End the surveillance of Muslim communities. 

Seeing as Bratton left last week's meeting with CPR members under the impression that "a number" of reformers "feel that their issues weren't addressed," it's unlikely we'll see the NYPD implement all of these recommendations. Whether the NYPD becomes a radically different police force is only part of the story. With the release of this document, CPR has taken de Blasio's promises of reform and fleshed them out. If the mayor-elect thinks these recommendations are off base, or not in keeping with what he talked about on the campaign trail, I suspect we'll soon find out. 

And if he does agree with CPR's recommendations, well, that'll be interesting as well. How many items on the above list can he implement without alienating the NYPD, Bratton, and a patrolman's union that's paranoid about even moderate reforms? How much does he have to do in order to say he delivered on his campaign promise to reform the NYPD? 

Top image: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Mike Riggs is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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