September 24, 2019
NYPD enacting all reforms suggested by OIG-NYPD
The NYPD and the Department of Investigation's ("DOI") Office of the Inspector General for the New York City Police Department ("OIG-NYPD") jointly announce improvements to policies, practices and training on officer wellness and safety. These improvements, in line with recommendations made by an OIG-NYPD investigation, and accepted by NYPD, are detailed in a Report issued today by the OIG-NYPD and in the Response Letter issued today by NYPD. The NYPD response can be found here and the OIG's original report can be found here.
NYPD and OIG-NYPD agree that officer wellness and safety is a critical issue. In 2019 alone, nine NYPD uniformed personnel have died by suicide. OIG-NYPD's review found that NYPD leadership takes these issues seriously and is addressing them, as evidenced by recent improvements and an ongoing commitment to strengthen policies and training in this area. NYPD currently provides a network of services to current and former NYPD members and the Department is collaborating with City and private sector entities, including OIG-NYPD, to ensure that these services continue to improve.
NYPD officers have a range of internal and external support services at their disposal, although these services are underutilized by uniformed personnel as a result of the stigma surrounding mental health issues and treatment, according to an OIG-NYPD survey of retired officers. Based in part on the facts uncovered by OIG-NYPD’s investigation, the agencies agree on a number of changes to improve access to mental health services and to encourage officers to feel comfortable seeking help. One area of agreement is the need for expanded training, beyond what has been available for the last several years. Within the last month, NYPD provided health and wellness training to executives, and command level training is underway. Finally, as per the OIG-NYPD recommendation, NYPD is exploring thoughtful ways to use data that can help identify at-risk officers (e.g., information regarding officers involved in domestic incidents, etc.) for early intervention, while protecting officer privacy.
Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said, "NYPD officers are dedicated to fighting crime and keeping all New Yorkers safe. And, as an organization, we are dedicated to ensuring that every member of the service is supported in seeking help whenever it is needed. Everyone must be comfortable accessing any of the many available resources, and should understand that asking for help is never a sign of weakness – in fact, it is a sign of great strength. We thank the staff of the OIG-NYPD for their research and recommendations, and are encouraged that the NYPD reforms are on the right track."
DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, "DOI stands together with the NYPD in recognizing that mental health wellness is a vitally important matter that takes regular education and outreach, and the creation of a compassionate, supportive, and open environment for officers to seek assistance. No police officer should be left to struggle alone. DOI and NYPD are committed to work together to successfully address this issue and I thank Police Commissioner O'Neill and his staff who are dedicated to improving these crucial services."
Inspector General Philip K. Eure said, "NYPD is facing a crisis, and the wellness of officers impacts the safety of the public. By hearing directly from retired officers and reviewing NYPD’s current policies and practices, we have sought to highlight where NYPD is doing well and where they can do better."
Police officers are highly susceptible to stress, trauma, and fatigue given the nature of their work, and such factors can impact their wellness. OIG-NYPD's review sought to understand the effectiveness and use of NYPD's current mental health resources by issuing an anonymous survey to all uniformed personnel who retired in 2016. Findings include:
OIG-NYPD and NYPD agree that there is a need to continue to strengthen the Department's support services and create a culture that encourages officers to use these programs. As part of NYPD's ongoing efforts to address the mental health issues in the ranks, the Department has circulated pamphlets, posters, videos, and other messages detailing existing and new services and encouraging officers to seek help. NYPD has also rolled out additional efforts in recent months, including creating a Health and Wellness Task Force, establishing a Health and Wellness Section, which will provide vital resources and relevant trainings to enhance members' overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and identifying several short-term and long-term reforms to address officer suicides. In addition, NYPD has accepted each of OIG-NYPD's 12 recommendations, and has already implemented some of them or is in the process of doing so.
The recommendations include:
The OIG-NYPD Report was prepared by DOI’s Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD, specifically Assistant Inspector General Patrick Cahill; Policy Analyst Betty Diop; Senior Policy Analyst Justyn Richardson; Confidential Investigator Justin Ramos; Policy Analyst Tatiana Hastings; and Investigative Attorney Jaclyn Quiles, under the supervision of First Deputy Inspector General Asim Rehman and Inspector General Philip K. Eure.
DOI thanks the five police unions for their assistance in the development of the survey used in the Report.
NYPD's Response Letter was prepared by Jeffrey Schlanger, NYPD Deputy Commissioner, Risk Management Bureau.