Friday, January 30, 2009

That Would Be Nice

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants independent prosecution for police brutality cases. That would be nice.

Right now, NYC has a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) that has the power to ..., well they don't really have any power. They can send complaints to the police department who handle things internally and experience no external oversight. To no surprise, the NYPD fails to prosecute (or see here) a significant portion of cases substantiated by the CCRB.

The latest move by the NYPD to quiet calls for civilian oversight has been to include lawyers from the CCRB in prosecutions. Sadly, it's a meaningless gesture. The degree of involvement allowed the CCRB lawyer is determined by the head prosecutor for the police department.

What's needed is true civilian oversight. It should be the CCRB deciding which cases are prosecuted and the extent to which police department lawyers are involved. The people shouldn't have to go to the NYPD to meekly ask them to police their own.

Maybe I'm wrong about all of this. Maybe accountability to the taxpayers is an unrealistic ideal. Can someone explain to me how having a police department with zero accountability to the people is good for NYC and its residents? Please?