The head of the union representing rank-and-file New York City police officers blasted a slew of proposed disciplinary guidelines Monday for cops who violate department policies and engage in misconduct as the debate over law enforcement tactics continue to roil throughout several American cities.
Hours earlier, the New York Police Department published a 48-page draft of what it calls a “disciplinary matrix,” a set of punishment guidelines similar to the standards used to determine how convicted criminals are sentenced. The changes are expected to be adopted after a 30-day public comment period.
The report lists a number of offenses along with corresponding penalties.
If officers are found to have killed or hurt someone with wrongful use of deadly physical force, they could be fired, according to the draft proposal. The same applies to officers who fail to intervene when such force is being used. The penalty is similar for engaging in hate speech, intentionally making false statements and racial profiling.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, blasted the guidelines, predicting changes to the proposal will be “based on headlines and poll numbers.”
“Apparently mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines are unfair to criminals but perfectly fine for cops, Lynch said in a statement released by the PBA. “The matrix has nothing to do with fairness.”
He also accused the City Council of using police discipline standards to further radical political goals as other major cities adopt sweeping police reforms.
In a Monday announcement, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the proposal, which is intended to increase, transparency and accountability, was part of a pledge to the Obama Foundation — a Chicago-based nonprofit overseeing the creation of the Barack Obama Presidential Center — to work on police reform.
“We want it to be clear that when certain actions are taken, when certain mistakes are made, there will be accountability,” he said.
New York State has passed a number of police reforms spurred by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The bills include a ban on police chokeholds, making it easier to sue people who call the police on others without good reasons and assigning a special prosecutor to investigate deaths during police encounters.
The City Council is expected to revisit a provision of the chokehold ban — known as the “diaphragm” portion — that makes it a misdemeanor for officers to sit, kneel or stand on a suspect’s chest or back.
City Council member Donovan Richards told the New York Daily News the ban has been subjected to “fuzzy” interpretation, such as that “if an officer touches somebody’s back, they’re going to go to jail.”