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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Politician Call for Police Oversight Board

Koppell renews his call for police oversight board
The Riverdale Press by Graham Kates - November 16, 2011

Buoyed by a slew of recent corruption cases from within the NYPD, Councilman Oliver Koppell is hoping to create a new, stronger committee for investigating police misconduct. The Independent Police Investigation and Audit Board, which Mr. Koppell and seven other Council Members are sponsoring, would have the ability to conduct independent corruption investigations and subpoena information from the police department. The proposal was inspired by the 1994 Mollen Commission report, produced after a two-year-long corruption investigation that found the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau “ignored and at times concealed corruption, rather than root it out.” The Commission recommended that the police department reform it’s internal review process, but also create an independent board to oversee internal investigations. To that end, an earlier iteration of the Independent Police Investigation and Audit Board was proposed, passed by the City Council and vetoed by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. After the veto, the City Council took its case to the courts and Mr. Koppell was the attorney who represented the city council. “He’s always been someone who’s been very concerned with issues of corruption, and police corruption in particular,” said Jamin Sewell, a representative for Mr. Koppell. “He got more involved with the issue and it became important to him [during the court challenge].” Almost two decades later, there is still little New Yorkers can do to monitor police corruption. There’s the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a city board tasked with examining allegations of misconduct within the New York Police Department, but the CCRB is swamped with complaints and, according to the non-profit Citizen Crime Commission, the police department is often slow to produce information requested by the CCRB. And there’s also the mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption, a small team that issues one annual report on corruption in the department. But neither the CCRB or the Commission to Combat Police Corruption have the legal teeth that Mr. Koppell hopes his Independent Police Investigation and Audit Board would have. Proposed in 2010, Mr. Koppell is hoping a rash of recent NYPD scandals will net the legislation renewed attention. “The need for an independent entity to closely monitor the Department’s anti-corruption efforts as well as independently investigate allegations of illegal activities is undiminished,” Mr. Koppell’s proposal states. In the last six weeks, 16 Bronx police officers were arrested in relation to a ticket-fixing investigation, seven narcotics investigators were convicted of planting drugs on people to meet arrest quotas, eight current and former cops were arrested for gun smuggling, three for robbing a warehouse and another was charged with arresting someone because of his race.

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