A new bill introduced Thursday in the City Council would require the city’s Department of Investigation to maintain a referral system for complaints about NYPD officers lying in court as well as mandate that the agency probe such complaints.
The bill, which was introduced by Councilman Lincoln Restler (D-Brooklyn) at the legislative body’s full meeting, would require DOI to substantiate whether complaints are valid, and if so, to conduct a further investigation and publish a report of its findings.
“There is widespread documentation of officers giving false or misleading testimony, withholding exculpatory evidence, intimidating witnesses — all to justify unjust arrests and secure convictions that can only be described as wrongful,” Restler said Thursday. “Prosecutors have been left to their own devices, maintaining their own lists of police officers who can not be trusted in a court of law. We must step up to do our part to root out this rot in our justice system and we must go further — we must actually hold officers accountable when they engage in evidentiary misconduct.”
Restler said that even though district attorneys keep track of cops they suspect of lying, a defined process doesn’t currently exist to hold those officers accountable. His aim with the new bill is to change that.
Under the legislation, if a claim of evidentiary misconduct is substantiated by the Department of Investigation, then all relevant parties — including the city’s five district attorneys would be notified. If DOI determines misconduct was intentional, it would then be required to probe prior cases involving the officer or officers in question.
The bill would also require the NYPD to hand over any relevant documents and body-worn camera footage within seven days of a request from DOI related to one of its misconduct probes. The NYPD would also be required to make any employees identified as relevant to such a probe available for questioning, according to the bill.
Along with Restler, fellow Brooklyn Democratic Council members including Sandy Nurse, Crystal Hudson, Chi Ossé and several others are backing the bill.
“The department is reviewing the bill,” said a spokesperson for the NYPD. “However, the department takes evidentiary misconduct seriously and thoroughly investigates any allegation against our officers.”
A representative from DOI declined to comment on the new bill.
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