NYPD unveils new blueprint for how to discipline officers over violations

August 31, 2020
Craig McCarthy
New York Post

The NYPD has revealed a plan for how to reprimand cops for internal violations including the use of chokeholds, failing to turn on body-worn cameras and leaking information to the press.

A draft of the lengthy disciplinary matrix — which is used by other police departments across the country, including Los Angeles and New Orleans — was published online Monday morning for public review before it goes into effect on Jan. 15, 2021.

The standardized guidelines, similar to how sentencing works in criminal cases, were created on the recommendation from a panel of policing experts who were tapped in 2018 to review the department’s disciplinary process.

The 48-page draft of discipline covers a variety of offenses, and in most cases, cops lose vacation days for infractions, though others can result in suspensions or termination.

Discourtesy has a five-day penalty — while a wrongful stop-and-frisk and failing to provide a badge number or a right to know business card all come with a potential three-day punishment.

Under the proposed matrix cops can be dinged 20 vacation days or suspended for the same amount of time for purposely not recording an encounter with their body camera.

The same penalty would be imposed for leaking information to the media.

At the same time, verbal sexual harassment comes with 20 days of docked of time — and five are added on if there is “suggestive touching.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s top cop touted matrix as a step towards transparency at a moment when reform has been at the forefront of contentious national political discourse.

The mayor said the move was part of the Obama Foundation pledge to review police policies that he took back in June.

Police Commissioner Dermont Shea said the pledge was a “no brainer” for the city since there was a “tremendous amount of overlap” with the panel’s recommendations.

“Over the past nearly seven years, our NYPD officers have worked tirelessly to carry out a series of cutting edge reforms, all geared toward increasing fairness, impartiality and accountability in policing and to deepen our ties with those we serve in every New York City neighborhood,” Shea said, noting the matrix was in the works for the last 12 months.

But turns out, the police department was forced to roll out the matrix as part of City Council’s recent package of police reform and had dragged their feet for years on the standardization, according to council sources.

Cops also railed against the matrix, questioning the point of guidelines if all of it is still at the discretion of the police commissioner.

“That line alone defeats the point of a matrix,” one source griped to The Post.

A federal judge who ruled the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk was racist and unconstitutional also recommend the matrix.

All of the other recommendations from the policing experts of the Blue Ribbon Panel, which was commissioned by former Police Commissioner James O’Neill, have been adopted.

“We wanted to make it very, very clear that if you do certain things there are certain consequences,” Assistant Chief Matthew Pontillo told the Associated Press, which first reported the disciplinary changes.

A police reform group slammed the matrix, saying the thought the cops would face the strong penalties a “fairy tale.”

“The NYPD just made public that officers who break the law with unlawful arrests, illegal searches, unconstitutional stops, and who refuse to give their identification as part of the Right To Know Law won’t lose their jobs — they just might lose some vacation days,” said Mark Winston Griffith, a Communities United for Police Reform spokesman.

“Cops who cause serious physical injury, sexually harass, refuse to intervene in excessive force, don’t supervise officers, or interfere with body camera footage might lose some vacation days, not their jobs.”