NYPD amends ‘obviously unfair’ disciplinary policy

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell says she plans to make changes to the NYPD’s disciplinary policy — reducing sentences after it found dozens of cases were “manifestly unfair” to cops, The Post has learned.

The city’s top police officer said in an internal memo distributed Wednesday that she has overturned sentencing recommendations from internal police judges and the Civilian Complaint Review Board on the cases and will soon “change” the department’s disciplinary matrix.

The memo obtained by The Post gave no details on what changes Sewell intended to make.

The commissioner signaled that discipline related to the Right to Know Act, which requires officers to provide business cards to the public upon request, would be reduced. Under current guidelines, police officers can be fined up to 10 days in discipline for violating city statutes.

Sewell said some of the disciplinary recommendations she had questioned were “manifestly unfair to the officers being reviewed.”

Keechant Sewell
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell did not say what changes she wanted to make, but said some of the recommendations were “manifestly unfair to the officers being screened”.
Getty Images/David Dee Delgado

“I don’t want officers to feel unfairly treated, I want motivated women and men who are enthusiastic members of the ministry and work effectively with community residents,” she wrote.

“In some cases, officers were implied to have bad intentions when none were present, or misinterpreted situations.”

NYPD officers watch protesters in Times Square
The memo said Sewell overturned sentencing recommendations from internal police judges and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
AFP via Getty Images

Sewell has reduced or dismissed recommended sentences for police officers in more than 70 cases in her first year — more than her recent predecessors at the helm of the department, she said in the memo.

These included “various instances” where police officers gave their name and ID number but no business cards, and were given “one to two days off and/or mandatory training.”

The memo also includes two other examples, with little detail, of cases in which Sewell declined to discipline officers on allegations of illegal search and abuse of office.

The Matrix – a long set of guidelines for how police officers can be reprimanded for internal infractions – was created under former Police Commissioner Dermot Shea with input from the public and attorneys, and was a key pillar of his tenure.

Former NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea
The Matrix was created under former Police Commissioner Dermot Shea with input from the public and attorneys.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

It aimed to create consistency in the NYPD’s disciplinary process, a long-standing issue that has been criticized internally and externally as playing favorites or appearing arbitrary.

Under the matrix, the commissioner still has the final word on discipline – regardless of what an internal trial judge proposes or, in the case, a negotiated settlement achieves.

However, if the commissioner deviates from the guidelines, he must state publicly why he thinks the discipline should be changed.

In 2022, the NYPD only issued five letters of deviation.

The Matrix was officially signed with the Police Commissioner and CCRB President on board in February 2021, months after a draft of the guidelines was publicly released.

Sewell commended the Matrix for meeting its “critical goal,” but said the document should not be viewed as “static.”

“Members of the service who engage in misconduct make all your jobs that much harder,” Sewell added.

“Make no mistake, I will not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary action against those who engage in misconduct of any kind.”

https://nypost.com/2022/12/14/police-commissioner-to-change-disciplinary-guidelines-after-manifestly-unfair-penalties/ NYPD amends ‘obviously unfair’ disciplinary policy

JACLYN DIAZ

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