In 2019, complaints made against the NYPD became more and more common. There was a 20% rise since the previous year, and there are fears that these complaints will continue to increase. The city has released new statistics suggesting that civilians and cops need to cooperate in order to resolve the cases, but they are struggling to do this. While complaints increased, cases in which the complainant and police officer agreed to attempt mediation decreased by 10%. The question is, why are there so many complaints being issued?
Around 30 years ago, there was a law passed by the U.S supreme court stating that any force used by a police officer had to be ‘objectively reasonable.’ This means that any actions pursued by the officer had to be reviewed from the outlook of a hypothetical ‘reasonable officer’ at the scene. This law was passed to protect civilians; however, many police officers do abuse this law to an extent and will support each other when police officers are pulled up on it. It has done its job in some cases, as it has helped many police officers in New York City make better decisions.
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The new ‘right-to-know’ law may be a reason for the rise in NYPD complaints. The law was passed in 2017 and in October 2018, it came into effect. This law obliges officers to classify themselves by name, command, rank and shield number. This identification needs to be issued at the start of certain civilian interactions. It also requires the officer to have and hand over a business card that contains the same information, plus how to put in a complaint against NYPD.
Old and new laws have been put in place to protect civilians against cases of police brutality, which is basically when police abuse their position and are unnecessarily aggressive and forceful towards the civilians they are meant to protect. Unfortunately, statistics have seen a rise in cases of police brutality, which can explain why complaints against the NYPD continue to grow. Racism plays a big part of this, as minorities or people of color are over twice as likely to be shot, injured or killed by police officers compared to Caucasians. Social media has played a huge part in increasing police brutality awareness.
Many people don’t want to go through the mediation process because it doesn’t result in any officer discipline, making it become an unpopular option for justice. If mediation isn’t thought to be successful, the people who have filed the complaint don’t forfeit any rights to pursue a further investigation. In 2019, the mediation success rate fell from 95% to 88%. The success rate has averaged out to around 90% over the past 5 years, but the CCRB states that its goal is to hit 94% or higher at a consistent rate.
As problems continue to increase, we need to make sure we understand and are more aware of the issues we may face and the rights. This is so we can protect ourselves and get the justice we deserve. However, it is important to remember that many members of the NYPD do want to protect us.