Over-Policing the Police?

The New York City Council is now mulling over a bill to create the position of Inspector General to oversee the Police Department.

On paper, the bill, introduced by Councilman Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams appears to make sense.

All federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies and most NYC agencies already have an Inspector General whose task is to perform investigations to help ensure agencies are following the law; to identify waste, fraud, and abuse; to find deficiencies in agencies’ programs that limit the ability to achieve their mission; to recommend corrective action; and to ensure appropriate transparency and oversight.

However, while the councilmen mean well with their proposal, we disagree.

The NYPD already has an excellent oversight structure which includes an Internal Affairs Bureau and the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Last year, the CCRB was given wide new powers to prosecute officers in misconduct cases.

Furthermore, under the masterful leadership of Commissioner Ray Kelly, the NYPD has been extremely receptive to complaints and suggestions for improvement.

What is particularly disconcerting is the fact that it was the NYPD’s extensive and praiseworthy efforts to prevent terrorist attacks that is one of the primary reasons cited in support of the bill.

Mr. Lander and other supporters of the law argue that while Internal Affairs and the CCRB investigate individual cases, no mechanism exists to provide for independent, secure investigations to ensure that NYPD policies and procedures are operating effectively and consistently with the law.

But as Deputy Commissioner, Paul J. Browne put it in a statement to Hamodia, no police department in America has more oversight than the NYPD, and it’s intelligence investigations are subject to the Federal court-supervised Handschu accord.

“Each of five separately elected district attorneys has authority to investigate the NYPD, as does each of two United States Attorneys, not to mention the New York State Attorney General, along with the independent  Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Mayor’s Commission on Police Corruption.

“Internally, the NYPD devotes about the same number of personnel to oversight as it does to counterterrorism — approximately  1,000, — comprising the  nation’s most robust and effective Internal Affairs Bureau, as well as inspectional units throughout the department,” Browne adds.

We fully agree with the NYPD leadership. Creating an Inspector General position is unnecessary and may end up being counterproductive. We urge the city council to vote no on this bill.