NYPD personnel received higher penalties for the same or for a lower number of charged offenses.[85]

B.             Disciplinary Decision Makers are Potentially Susceptible to Inappropriate Influences

The Panel also conducted a review of select disciplinary cases to look for the possible presence of improper influence on disciplinary outcomes for high-ranking or “connected” personnel, as has been alleged in media and other reports.[86] The Panel’s analysis suggests that, while the disciplinary process generally produced fair results, it may not have been free from all improper influence in particular cases. As is true of any multi-step, complex decision-making process, the Department’s disciplinary system is susceptible to improper influences or inequities, including in making decisions not to report misconduct at all. And, during the course of its review, the Panel was made aware of certain fact patterns that suggest that, on occasion, officers failed to report incidents and impeded or otherwise interfered with ongoing investigations, including by “pulling rank” or exploiting their relationships with influential members in the Department. The Panel has not reviewed sufficient evidence to conclude, however, that these practices represent the norm. But any exception would be troubling, and the Panel identified at least three cases where that may have occurred.

Because of the restrictions imposed upon the Panel by § 50–a and the temporary restraining order issued by the court in Patrolmen’s Benevolent Ass’n of the City of New York v. de Blasio, the Panel cannot report specifically on these cases.[87]

C.             Operations Within the Department Advocate’s Office Raise Particular Concerns About Outside Influences on the Disciplinary Process

Over the course of its work, the Panel observed that DAO, in particular, may be susceptible to pressures or outside influences, which could negatively impact the integrity of the disciplinary process. Specifically, the Panel’s review of DAO’s operations suggested that the Department Advocate is particularly vulnerable to internal and external influences outside of the formal disciplinary process.[88]

The Panel heard from relevant sources that internal and external influences on the Department Advocate are of particular concern to those involved in the disciplinary process.

[85] The exception noted above involved a case where a captain was charged with failure to safeguard a firearm as well as with failure to secure an identification card and shield, an administrative offense. It is important to note that in the overall Failure to Safeguard a Firearm category, lieutenants charged with this offense did not have a higher number of other charged offenses, suggesting that the exception does not negate the Panel’s overall findings.

[86] The Panel reviewed a sample of disciplinary cases prosecuted by DAO that have led to allegations of “white-shirt” immunity. The review included an examination of IAB and DAO case files, as well as interviews with members of the Department involved in the adjudication of those cases.

[87] As discussed above, Civil Rights Law § 50–a restricts disclosure of personnel records, limiting the Panel’s ability to comment with more specificity. The Panel also has not provided anonymized summaries of the files, in light of the temporary restraining order issued by the court in Patrolmen’s Benevolent Ass’n of the City of New York v. de Blasio, No. 153231/2018, slip op. 32839 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 18, 2018).

[88] The Panel’s findings are based on extensive discussions and interviews with members of DAO.