NYC Sets Out Police-Reform Plan, Vows to Strip Racism From NYPD

New York City is launching an investigation into institutional racism within its police department and plans to remove officers who are found to be unable to do their jobs without bias.

The move follows months of controversy over how the city’s police force handled citywide protests in the aftermath of the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, the subject of a lawsuit against the NYPD by Attorney General Letitia James.

It comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio seeks to cement his legacy before his term expires in December and follow through with campaign promises to reform the department dating back to his 2013 mayoral run.

NYC Sets Out Police-Reform Plan, Vows to Strip Racism From NYPD

De Blasio on Friday introduced a police-reform plan that aims to root the department of what it called “structural racism.” The plan includes giving preference to New York City residents when hiring police officers, ensuring NYPD members are more representative of city demographics, and creating a citywide policy governing the use of biometric technology, including facial recognition and finger printing.

“This is really about respect and fairness,” de Blasio said in a Friday briefing. “Policing is going to look very different in this city.”

City Hall will contract an independent firm to review public-facing NYPD policies and practices to “identify areas in which structural racism affects the Department and its employees,” according to the report.

De Blasio Legacy

The city has been taking steps to reform its criminal justice system since the 2014 death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after an officer placed him in a choke hold. It renewed efforts in the aftermath of the 2020 police killing of George Floyd.

This month the city published a database of officer disciplinary records after winning a court fight with the police union which sought to block their release. In January, the city also took steps update its officer disciplinary process, more clearly laying out the penalties for certain offenses.

But de Blasio and the NYPD came under fire for their handling of the summer protests, in what James said were actions that “repeatedly and blatantly violated the rights of New Yorkers, inflicting significant physical and psychological harm and leading to great distrust in law enforcement.” James called for a court-appointed monitor to oversee department practices during future protests and demonstrations.

“I took responsibility for my role as leader. We need to do better,” de Blasio said Friday.

De Blasio has championed a number of changes to the NYPD during his two terms, including reducing stop-and-frisk police encounters, requiring officers to wear body cameras and instituting department-wide bias training. But many of the recommendations included in Friday’s report hearken back to campaign promises on police reform that de Blasio advocated for when he first ran for mayor in 2013 and hasn’t been able to see through to fruition. De Blasio, barred by term limits, will step down as mayor later this year.

“Some of what we’ve been doing over the last seven years is a foundation,” de Blasio said. “The direction has to be deepened all the time.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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