New York Draws Matrix for Police Punishments

Goals are consistency and fairness, officials say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2020 7:40 PM CDT
Grid Would Standardize Punishments for Police
New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, left, speaks alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio during a news conference about two police-involved shootings in February.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A New York City police officer who refuses to call for medical help for an injured person should be docked 20 vacation or suspension days. Intentionally making a false statement would be a firing offense, as would not intervening when another officer kills someone by wrongly using deadly force. All is spelled out in the city's draft of a discipline matrix, clearly spelling out suggested punishments for police misconduct, the Daily News reports. The goals are consistency, fairness, and transparency, along with improved relations. "The NYPD's lack of a standard disciplinary system has long built mistrust between the department and the communities they serve," said City Council member Donovan Richards. The matrix is "big step forward for transparency and accountability," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Punishments often have been disproportionate and inconsistent, per a Daily News investigation. "We wanted to make it very, very clear that if you do certain things there are certain consequences," said an assistant chief who worked on the proposal. The matrix includes possible mitigating or exacerbating factors that should be taken into consideration; the final decision would still be made by the police commissioner. The head of the city's main police union called the 52-page proposal politically motivated, per the AP. "Apparently mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines are unfair to criminals but perfectly fine for cops," Pat Lynch said, adding that the matrix could well be changed later "based on headlines and poll numbers, rather than any objective sense of justice or fairness." (More police misconduct stories.)

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