New York Daily News

Updated: September 1, 2017, 5:06 PM

  

 

CCRB chairwoman wants to stop considering criminal history of citizens complaining about police

BY GRAHAM RAYMAN

Criminal histories have been included in the closing reports given to the board for a finding throughout the agency’s 24-year history. (TILLSONBURG/TILLSONBURG)

A rap sheet should not be contained in the final report on a citizen’s complaint about the cops, the brand new head of the city’s police watchdog group says.

Deborah Archer, who now chairs the Civilian Complaint Review Board, wants the board to stop considering the prior criminal records of people seeking probes of police abuse, the Daily News has learned.

“I never saw it as relevant,” Archer said at the board’s Aug. 24 meeting. “In 95% of the cases, it is not relevant to the credibility (of complainants). Even in the small percentage of cases where credibility is an issue, I would err on not including it.”

But Archer, who is on leave as a law professor at NYU, thinks the complete prior complaint history of officers should remain in the reports.

Her idea was slammed by the police unions. “Clearly, she should step down from her position,” said Ed Mullins, of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

“She has already exposed her inability to remain impartial. This is another case of the lunatics running the asylum.”

Her proposal would represent a major change from the agency’s longstanding practice. Criminal histories have been included in the closing reports given to the board for a finding throughout the agency’s 24-year history.

“To exclude this information from investigative findings furthers a perception there exists a bias against police by board members,” said Roy Richter of the Captains Endowment Association.

The heads of the detectives and police officers union also blasted the proposal.

“There is a persistent pattern of anti-police bias that has always infected the supposedly impartial CCRB,” said Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

“The fact that some board members believe that complainants' criminal histories are irrelevant but police officers' complaint histories aren't is yet another example of the destructive trend.”

Added Michael Palladino of the Detectives Endowment Association, “A policy to accept certain information while disregarding other information is flawed and designed to provide the CCRB the opportunity to back into a pre-determined conclusion.”

Palladino cited the recent decision by Police Commissioner James O’Neill to overturn a CCRB finding of guilt in a case involving a cop accused of using a chokehold.

On Wednesday, the NYPD released a video of the 2013 encounter, which showed the detective putting his forearm around a suspect’s neck for a few seconds.

“We witnessed that recently with the chokehold substantiation that turned out to be false because the CCRB ignored the video evidence,” Palladino said.

Two members of the board appointed by the police commissioner also disagreed with Archer.

“The basis of the CCRB is that everybody gets treated the same,” board member Frank Dwyer said. “With police officers, we get not only their convictions in the CCRB, but we also get a list of every allegation.”

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said both the CCRB history of the cop and the criminal record of the alleged victim are equally irrelevant and should be excluded.

"But when the CCRB finds misconduct, it also makes a discipline recommendation, and for those recommendations it's appropriate, even necessary, for the CCRB to have the officer's prior complaint history,” he said.

Archer, who was appointed chair of the board on Thursday, got support from board colleagues Maya Wiley and Angela Fernandez.

“I don't think it’s relevant,” Fernandez said. “If a person has a criminal history it doesn't mean that they haven't been victimized.”

The board sent the proposal to Executive Director Jonathan Darche for analysis.

A spokesman for Mayor de Blasio said he is reviewing the proposal.