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     Read Pat Lynch's letter to the CCRB.

Op-Ed in the New York Daily News
Sept. 15, 2014

Wanted: A CCRB that’s fair to cops 

The police union president responds to the new chairman


Richard Emery, the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s newly appointed chairman, seems to have a firm grasp of how his organization rates with New York City police officers. In his recent column in these pages, he noted that the CCRB “has not gained the respect or trust . . . of police officers, who view the CCRB as a kangaroo court.”

That is an understatement. Police officers who are summoned to the CCRB have little expectation that the allegations leveled against them will be “fairly and independently” investigated, as mandated by the City Charter.

For many years, the CCRB’s only apparent objectives have been to expand its own power and ratchet up the severity and frequency of the discipline handed down by the NYPD. It has functioned more as an advocate for complainants than an independent investigative body. This has been especially apparent in its recently assumed role in “prosecuting” disciplinary cases in the NYPD’s Trial Room.

If Emery is truly interested in transforming the CCRB into something more than a “kangaroo court,” his first goal should be to afford police officers elements of due process that have so far been lacking in CCRB investigations — not to collect as many accusations against police officers as possible, regardless of their merits. Unfortunately, some of the new initiatives he has proposed seem intended to do just that.

In the vast majority of cases that the CCRB reviews, there is little or no evidence of police misconduct. In the last five years, the board has found sufficient credible evidence of misconduct in only 6% of the allegations it investigated.

Among the remaining 94%, there were 11,325 instances in which the board determined that the officers’ actions were lawful and proper. In 4,406 other instances, the board not only determined that no misconduct occurred, but found “sufficient credible evidence to believe that the subject officer did not commit the alleged act.”

That is nearly 16,000 accusations leveled against police officers who did nothing wrong, a third of which were simply made up. While some false or baseless allegations may have been the result of honest mistakes, many are deliberate fabrications filed in retaliation for a necessary and appropriate police action.

Unfortunately, this is an effective tactic for anybody with an ax to grind against a police officer. There are currently no consequences of any kind for members of the public who lie to CCRB investigators, but every police officer faces the prospect of having his or her career derailed by a meritless accusation.

The mere filing of a CCRB complaint, even if it is eventually found to be unsubstantiated or untrue, can negatively impact an officer’s career. Unresolved disciplinary proceedings often hold up promotions and retirements.

Police officers are bound by their oath — and the threat of departmental discipline — to tell the truth to CCRB investigators. Basic fairness dictates that complainants should be held to the same standard. Civilian police oversight bodies in other jurisdictions in New York State require that all complaint forms be signed under penalty of perjury.

Why not here?

We understand that Emery wants to make his organization more accessible to the public it serves. But to police officers, roving complaint vans and smartphone apps look disturbingly like another invitation for criminals to seek quick, consequence-free “payback” against officers.

This is one of several items that I included in a recent letter to the CCRB. I hope to have the opportunity to sit down with Emery soon to discuss ways that he and his board can gain the respect and trust of our members and restore the CCRB to its proper role as a body that fairly and impartially investigates filed complaints.

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Op-Ed in the New York Post
Sept. 15, 2014

Policing the police-bashers


Imagine a New York City police officer accused of physically attacking someone in a dispute, threatening to kill one bystander and intimidating several others — and then excusing himself by saying, “I let my passions get the better of me.”

You’d have demands for his badge faster than you can say “Al Sharpton.”

In fact, all these threats were made. But they didn’t come from a cop. They came from a community activist who is also a member of the Civilian Complaint Review Board — the agency that polices the police and has recently vowed to get a whole lot tougher on misbehaving cops.

The activist is Bishop Mitchell Taylor, pastor of Hope International. But the only calls for his sacking have come from police unions.

They rightly note Taylor, who until recently was presiding over CCRB meetings, “hasn’t the judgment or temperament to pass fair judgment” on our officers.

On Monday, The Post reported Taylor had been involved in an altercation last month outside a new Queens hotel where he confronted the owner over a labor dispute. Video shows him shoving one hotel official and wielding a pick-axe against others.

Taylor later expressed regrets but added, “I don’t apologize for standing up for my community.”

He’s reportedly under investigation by the Queens DA and the NYPD’s Major Case Squad in connection with allegations he tried to extort jobs and cash from the project.

Little wonder cops view the review board as a “kangaroo court,” as even its new chairman, activist lawyer Richard Emery, concedes. But it goes far beyond just the board’s membership.

Even though a sizable number of complaints have been found to be entirely made up, the CCRB is still seen by cops as inviting as many accusations against police as possible. Given the current campaign being waged against the NYPD, that’s likely to become worse.

One possible reform, says PBA President Patrick Lynch, is legal consequences for those who file baseless complaints. Other New York jurisdictions require that complaints be signed under penalty of perjury.

Falsely reporting an incident is a crime in New York. That should include making a phony allegation against cops.

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New York Post
September 15, 2014

Review Board member caught wielding a pickax during dispute

By Shawn Cohen and Larry Celona

A Queens pastor who was caught on camera wielding a pickax during a labor dispute is among several members of the Civilian Complaint Review Board sitting in judgment of city cops — despite the fact that their terms have expired, The Post has learned.

Police-union leaders are demanding the immediate ouster of CCRB member Bishop Mitchell Taylor, who was videotaped attacking a construction worker and menacing others with the tool.

Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said Taylor needs to get the boot “because, as a graphic video makes clear, he hasn’t the judgment or temperament to pass fair judgment on the actions of New York City police officers.”

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said, “Simply put, we do not believe Bishop Taylor has the common sense or moral standing to pass judgment on our members.”

In a letter to CCRB Chairman Richard Emery, Mullins also questioned “ how an individual who conducts himself in such a manner was selected for the CCRB board in the first instance.”

Taylor is under investigation for the Aug. 8 altercation, in which he allegedly threatened to kill the owner of a construction firm that is building a Howard Johnson hotel in Long Island City, law-enforcement sources said.

Surveillance video shows Taylor shoving a construction worker against a large, plate-glass window in the building’s lobby, then grabbing and swinging a pickax during a melee outside.

Cops and prosecutors are probing allegations that Taylor has tried to extort jobs and cash from the hotel project, sources said.

Taylor, leader of the non-denominational Center of Hope International church, was chosen for the 13-member CCRB by the City Council in 2008 and is among eight members whose terms have expired. All are continuing in their roles pending replacement or reappointment.

Emery, appointed by Mayor de Blasio, declined to comment on Taylor’s future with the board.

A City Hall spokeswoman said, “The administration is actively working with the City Council to designate and appoint members to the board who share the mayor and Emery’s values and commitment to protecting New Yorkers’ rights.”

In a statement, Taylor said, “I let my passions get the better of my [sic] on August 8 while championing for jobs for the people of Queensbridge and have apologized to the community and in the media.”

The CCRB — which de Blasio has vowed to shake up — is poised to fire its executive director, Tracy Catapano-Fox, whose job was posted last week on the city’s Web site.

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