New York, NY – The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) civilian oversight agency ruled on Monday that 65 officers should face varying degrees of discipline for their actions during the George Floyd riots.
NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) recommended the highest level of discipline against 37 officers, WPIX reported.
The board said those officers will face an administrative trial after they’ve been served their charges, WNBC reported.
Officers who are found guilty could lose vacation days, face suspension, or even termination.
CCRB recommended less severe discipline for another 28 officers, WPIX reported.
The review board recommended that those officers lose vacation days or participate in mandated training, WNBC reported.
The oversight group said there might be more officers guilty of misconduct during the protests but CCRB had been unable to investigate a third of the complaints.
CCRB said it could not identify all of the officers in the complaints because numerous officers had covered their names and badge numbers during the protests in violation of department policy, WNBC reported.
The panel also complained that some officers used their bodycams improperly during the riots or failed to complete accurate paperwork.
“After fully investigating over a hundred cases, the CCRB continues its commitment to investigating, and when necessary, prosecuting the officers responsible for committing misconduct against New Yorkers during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests,” CCRB Chair Fred Davie said.
“The APU is prepared to move forward with trials for the 37 officers who have received the highest level of disciplinary recommendations, as soon as the NYPD serves officers,” Davie added.
NYPD has been under criticism from multiple entities for its handling of violent protests that followed the death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020.
On Dec. 18, 2020, the New York City Department of Investigation (NYCDI) released the 111-page report that said the officers lacked adequate training and were unprepared to handle the massive, angry mobs, according to The New York Times.
According to the report, police commanders treated the large gatherings like riots instead of protests, and relied too heavily on “disorder control tactics” instead of trying to find “an appropriate balance” between civil rights and public safety.
Over 2,000 people were arrested during the demonstrations and riots that took place in May and June, The New York Times reported.
“The department itself made a number of key errors or omissions that likely escalated tensions, and certainly contributed to both the perception and the reality that the department was suppressing rather than facilitating lawful First Amendment assembly and expression,” the NYCDI concluded.
They also should have done more to de-escalate tensions and to be more discriminate when using crowd control tactics, according to the agency.
“The N.Y.P.D. use of force and crowd control tactics often failed to discriminate between lawful, peaceful protesters and unlawful actors and contributed to the perception that officers were exercising force in some cases beyond what was necessary,” the report said.
The NYCDI also blamed the New York Police Department (NYPD) for not handling rioters differently when the rioters claimed to be protesting police brutality, The New York Times reported.
“The fact that the target of the protests was policing itself does not appear to have factored into the department’s response strategy in any meaningful way,” the oversight agency lamented.
NYCDI Commissioner Margaret Garnett declared that the police response to the uprisings “really was a failure on many levels.”
Garnett also blasted members of the force who defended the way they responded to the mass gatherings – especially those who said they wouldn’t have done anything differently, The New York Times reported.
“I don’t quite know what to make of that,” Garnett commented during a news conference after the report was released. “I hope the department is more self-critical and self-reflective than those statements reflect.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he agrees with the findings of the report, but noted that the vast majority of the officers who responded to the riots did so commendably and without violating people’s rights, The New York Times reported.
Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Patrick Lynch said police are being shouldered with blame that should be directed at politicians who stood at a safe distance and criticized those on the front lines.
Lynch said the “report confirms what police officers knew on the first night of riots: our city leaders sent us out with no plan, no strategy and no support to deal with unrest that was fundamentally different from any of the thousands of demonstrations that police officers successfully protect every single year,” WCBS reported.
“Nearly 400 police officers were injured — struck with bricks, bottles, fire extinguishers and folding chairs — because of the mixed messages emanating from City Hall and Albany,” he continued. “No amount of new training or strategizing will help while politicians continue to undermine police officers and embolden those who create chaos on our streets.”
De Blasio said he regrets how he handled the months of rioting, but did not provide details regarding what he should have done differently.
“I look back with remorse. I wish I had done better,” he said, according to The New York Times. “I want everyone to understand that. And I’m sorry I didn’t do better.”