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Removing Police Commissioner from disciplinary process of officers may create litigation risks — Mayor de Blasio

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By Moses Kuwema


Mayor Bill de Blasio has said removing the NYPD commissioner from the disciplinary process involving police officers may create a State Law problem and litigation risk.

The NYPD and Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) recently signed a new agreement to strengthen the Discipline Matrix and ensure greater transparency around police discipline.

Speaking when he appeared Live on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC, Mayor de Blasio in response to a question posed by Lehrer who stated that City council speaker Corey Johnson who he appeared on the same show disclosed that the council had unveiled new package of bills and resolutions that include removing the police Commissioner's final disciplinary authority over even substantiated cases per the CCRB, said that would create the danger of things reverting back to collective bargaining with the police unions, whom he said would clearly try and water down the reforms.

"So, there are real issues here that have to be looked at. The best way to handle this is the discipline matrix, and because there's a legal MOU, a legal memorandum of understanding between the CCRB and the police department, that says the police department will abide by this matrix, and I've said it, and the Commissioner said it, I think that is the smartest way to change the discipline process," Mayor de Blasio said.

Mayor de Blasio said his office would embark on a two-month process with the city council that would involve public hearings in which a lot of input would be expected.

"We're going to come up with a plan with the Council that will be voted on by the end of March. And as I have a dialogue with the Council and with community members, we'll decide how to handle each of these items. But I do want to say to the first question – this is real important. The current State law is clear, and we have to be mindful about litigation risks here," he said. "We just created this disciplinary matrix. It's revolutionizing police discipline. Ask the Civilian Complaint Review Board, they will tell you this fundamentally changes police discipline. It empowers the Civilian Complaint Review Board. I've announced a series of additional changes, what I'm calling the David Dinkins Plan – a series of steps that we're taking now to empower further and strengthen the hand of the Civilian Complaint Review Board." 

He said the discipline matrix for the NYPD covers a huge range of offenses that include gender-based offenses and hate speeches. 

"There are a whole host of offenses and we hope we never have officers doing any of those. But it is quite comprehensive. And what I've said, the CCRB has said, the Police Commissioner has said, we are going to honor the matrix, period. So, the notion that State law says the Commissioner has ultimate authority, that's true. That's what State law says. What we've said and why there's the MOU, a memorandum of understanding between the CCRB and the NYPD is we will honor the matrix as written," Mayor de Blasio said. 

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