NYPD Announces 60-Day Update on Disciplinary System Reforms

April 1, 2019

Improvements to Disciplinary System Include Stronger Penalties for Domestic Violence

Commissioner James P. O'Neill today announced an update to reforms of the NYPD disciplinary system. In June 2018, Commissioner O'Neill convened an Independent Panel comprised of former Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Jo White, U.S. Attorney Robert Capers, and former federal judge Barbara Jones. The panel performed an autonomous, exhaustive review of NYPD discipline policies and made recommendations to improve it. On February 1, Commissioner O'Neill accepted the panel's 13 recommendations and pledged to implement five of the recommendations within 60 days. He also appointed an Implementation Group comprised of NYPD executives and chaired by First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin B. Tucker to lead this critical work.

The five short-term recommendations include:

  • Recommendation #1: Support amendments to 50-a
  • Recommendation #2: Guard against expansion of the scope of 50-a
  • Recommendation #3: Enhance public reporting in line with other agencies
  • Recommendation #4: Publish trial room calendars
  • Recommendation #6: Enhance variance reporting when penalty differs from recommendation

"Sixty days out from the panel's report, the NYPD continues to make significant progress in all areas. It's vital that we keep making our way forward, while always balancing it with the privacy and the safety of our police officers. All of this is an important step toward even greater transparency, and it is a crucial way to continue building trust and strengthening relationships across the city,” said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill.

Update on Discipline Policies Regarding Domestic Violence

In addition to the five recommendations that the Commissioner pledged to implement within 60-days, starting April 1st, the Department is adopting the recommendations from the Commission to Combat Police Corruption and the Independent Panel for discipline regarding domestic violence, which includes stronger penalties for offenders. Now, the first time, presumptive penalties have been established for members of service found guilty by the department of committing an act of physical domestic violence.

The strengthened domestic violence penalties include:

  • Addition of the presumptive penalty of dismissal probation for first-time offenders, in which violators lose civil service rights and now have one year to demonstrate commitment to rehabilitation by attending counseling, submitting to monthly evaluations, and following all department policies, or face outright dismissal.
  • The presumptive penalty for second-time offenders and/or members of service that have been legally convicted of a domestic violence crime is now termination.
  • Increase in potential penalty days that an offender can receive for acts of domestic violence based on the aggravating circumstances, like the presence of children during the incident.

The NYPD takes every instance of alleged domestic violence seriously, and the adoption of these recommendations will guide the Police Commissioner, who, as endorsed by the Panel, retains final disciplinary decision-making.

The domestic violence policy is currently being finalized, and will be made public when it is complete.

Below is a status update of the recommendations:

1 The Department should support amendments to 50-a to increase transparency and enhance accountability. NYPD leadership has voiced unequivocal support for 50-a reform in a number of forums. Read an op-ed from the Police Commissioner here. The Department will continue to engage members of the legislature in Albany.
2 The NYPD must guard against unwarranted expansion of the scope of 50-a. For FOIL requests since March, the Legal Bureau no longer asserts 50-a as a basis for non-disclosure of body-camera footage, arrest reports, and other routine police reports completed in connection with an arrest.
3 The NYPD should also enhance its public reporting in line with that of other agencies. NYPD newly created and published 2016 and 2017 reports as of April 1. These reports include never-before-published aggregate discipline information, within the limitations of 50-a. The 2018 report will be posted in May 2019 and on an annual basis thereafter.
4 Publish trial room calendars. As of March 4th, the Trial Room Calendar is posted online the first Monday of every month.
5 The Department should appoint a Civilian Liaison. The Department is establishing the Civilian Liaison position and will appoint by Fall 2019.
6 The Police Commissioner should enhance the documentation of variances from disciplinary recommendations. As of April 1st, enhanced variance memoranda were prepared for any discipline decision that deviates from DAO, DCT, or CCRB recommendation.
7 The NYPD should adopt protocols to insulate decision makers from external pressures and minimize the appearance of inappropriate influence over the disciplinary process. NYPD is developing a protocol and recusal policy and is on track to publish this new policy publically and train relevant members of service by Fall 2019.
8 The Department should study and consider adopting a disciplinary matrix. The Department should study and consider adopting a disciplinary matrix
9 The Department should take measures to expedite disciplinary adjudications. The NYPD is increasing personnel to handle case-load and identified fast-tracks for lower-level offenses, saving as much as three months in those cases.
10 The Department should strengthen enforcement of false statement disciplinary policies. New false statement enforcement policy will be in place by Summer 2019.
11 The Department should adopt presumptive penalties in domestic violence cases as recommended by CCPC. The NYPD is adopting presumptive penalties for physical acts of domestic violence as of April 1st, 2019 and is launching new mandatory training and an employee awareness campaign for all members of service in May 2019.
12 The Department should upgrade and integrate its Case Management System. The NYPD is developing technology solutions to ensure the successful implementation of all recommendations and efficient cross-sharing with other internal divisions.
13 Identify an external organization to audit the NYPD's reformed disciplinary system. NYPD is reviewing models for an independent audit of discipline process, and will establish a proposal by the end of summer.

The NYPD Implementation Group members include:

  • John K. Donohue, Chief of Strategic Initiatives
  • Vincent D. Grippo, Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget
  • Rosemarie Maldonado, Deputy Commissioner Trials
  • Matthew Pontillo, Assistant Chief and Commanding Officer in the Office of the First Deputy Commissioner
  • Ann Prunty, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Legal Matters
  • Joseph Reznick, Deputy Commissioner Internal Affairs
  • Jessica Tisch, Deputy Commissioner Information Technology
  • Cecil Wade, Deputy Chief and Commanding Officer in the Office of the Police Commissioner
  • Ashley Waters, Counsel to the Police Commissioner