A damaging report released by BuzzFeed News on Monday revealed that a large number of NYPD officers have committed fireable offenses but maintained their employment. This discovery was made through hundreds of internal police files obtained by BuzzFeed from an anonymous source.
At least 319 officers from 2011 to 2015 have committed crimes that include lying, cheating, stealing, or assaulting New York City residents. The alarming article shows that at least 50 employees lied on record or under an oath of some kind; 38 were found guilty of using excessive force; 57 had been driving under the influence, and several were accused of inappropriate behavior relating to sexual harassment—including one officer who touched and kissed a student while on duty at a school.
BuzzFeed writes that all of these offenses were met with barely a slap on the wrist. Instead of getting fired, the police commissioner gave these officers “dismissal probation,” which means practically nothing. Officers continue to perform their jobs at the same salary, and in a year the “probation” is over. That means, as the report confirms, that many of those 319 cops continue to work for the NYPD today.
This piece is the first of an ongoing investigation by BuzzFeed to explore NYPD’s records of those who have received dismissal probation and continue to work for the police department. The secrecy that envelops the internal misconduct of NYPD officers is made possible by a law that shields police misconduct records from becoming public. This has not only allowed police who have committed serious offenses to keep their jobs, but it prevents everyday citizens from being able to look up officers involved in their arrest to see if they have a history of lying or other abuses of power.
This scalding report comes soon after a big police misconduct scandal surrounding the Baltimore Police Department, which is being investigated for planting drugs and weapons, robbing citizens, and other crimes. The BuzzFeed News article reveals at least half of a decade of abuse of power by New York City law enforcement that implicates more than 10 times the amount of officers involved in the BPD scandal. Overall BuzzFeed's reporting shows the tremendous power cops who have committed crimes continue to hold over the lives of everyday New Yorkers.