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‘Police Action’ Is Required for NYPD to Investigate Officers Using the N-Word Against Civilians

Facing a firestorm of race-related allegations, the New York Police Department is accused of passing the buck when cops use racial slurs.

An investigative report released Wednesday found that although the New York Police Department prohibits racial slurs and other offensive language, it does not automatically prompt an investigation into biased policing.

NYPD officers on duty
Cops with the New York Police Department’s World Trade Center Counter-terrorism arm stand for duty. Photo by Facebook

“The offensive language must be accompanied by other police action — such as an arrest, the use of force or a refusal to take a complaint,” according to a report from the City of New York Department of Investigation.

If a complaint fails to rise to that standard, it’s tossed to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which can refer disciplinary action to police.

One example of a referral case cited in the report accuses a police officer of calling a black man a n—–. The officer didn’t believe the man driving a Bentley with a disability placard actually had a disability.

The officer then cited the man for littering when he threw a cigarette on the ground, according to the Department of Investigation report. His wife filed the complaint, but it’s unclear if the officer faced disciplinary action.

Inspector General Philip Eure said in the investigative report that NYPD must ensure complaints are thoroughly investigated and tracked. He also called on the civilian complaint board to expand its authority to investigate biased policing complaints.

“Biased policing, actual or perceived, undermines the core value of equal treatment under the law and also poses a threat to public safety because racial profiling and other types of biased policing undermine the public’s confidence and trust in law enforcement,” Eure said.

In its report, the Department of Investigation made 23 recommendations to the police department and Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Investigators cited instances of police incorrectly classifying complaints and failing to conduct requisite interviews with officers and complainants.

They examined police handling of 888 biased policing allegations filed between late 2014 and early 2017, and investigators reviewed more than 5,000 pages of New York Police documents, attended recruitment and training events and interviewed investigators.

The investigation revealed that 68 percent of the complaints were regarding race, ethnicity, color or national origin, and 66.5 percent of the people who filed the complaints are Black.

Investigations Commissioner Margaret Garnett said the report findings can offer guidance to ensure agencies are working together and sharing data.

“Establishing effective and fair processes for the investigation of biased policing allegations is a fundamental component of the police department’s relationship with the public, helping to build trust and confidence,” Garnett said.

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