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NYPD Commissioner's Plan to Reduce Discipline Protects Abusive Officers at the Expense of NYers

Updated: Mar 8, 2023


Eliel Cruz,

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2022

In response to NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell’s announcement that she will reduce disciplinary penalties for officers who commit misconduct, the Justice Committee released the following statement from Executive Director Loyda Colon (they/them):

NYPD Commissioner Sewell’s plan to reduce discipline penalties expands the NYPD’s decades-long protection of abusive officers who engage in misconduct. The existing NYPD discipline matrix is already very weak and largely excuses egregious acts like unconstitutional stops, excessive force, and sexual harassment with a slap-on-the-wrist. Sewell’s proposed changes make a bad situation worse: they signal that cops are above the law and send a dangerous message to officers who abuse their authority that the NYPD will protect them from real consequences whenever they abuse New Yorkers.

The fact that Sewell is highlighting officers’ violation of the Right to Know Act for reduced penalties is a slap in the face to the hundreds of organizations in NYC that fought for and won the passage of this law. The law requires NYPD officers to identify themselves to New Yorkers and let New Yorkers know that they have a constitutional right to not consent to searches that have no legal basis besides consent.

Furthermore, the news that Commissioner Sewell bragged in a message to officers that she has rejected over 70 discipline recommendations from the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the NYPD’s own administrative judges – more than other recent police commissioners – makes clear that the NYPD under Sewell has not prioritized holding officers accountable for misconduct.

With discipline trials against the officers who killed Kawaski Trawick and Delrawn Small expected to begin in 2023, this is a dangerous time for the Commissioner to send a message that she will systematically undermine discipline.

Mayor Adams should direct Commissioner Sewell to scrap her proposed changes. We’re calling on the Civilian Complaint Review Board to reject any discipline matrix changes handed down by Commissioner Sewell and to create a stronger, more effective matrix that takes police violence and abuse seriously. We are calling on all New Yorkers to stand with us in demanding the removal of discipline authority from the NYPD commissioner.

If NYC is serious about increasing public safety, we must also end police violence, and that starts with holding officers accountable for misconduct. Weakening NYPD disciplinary guidelines, coupled with the recent illegal and abusive involuntary removal directive, protects abusive police officers and expands the power of the NYPD to criminalize Black, Latinx and other communities of color at the expense of public safety and the needs of New Yorkers.


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