Members of the Department noted in discussions with the Panel that the Department Advocate frequently receives input about disciplinary cases outside the formal disciplinary process, including through informal direct communications or while attending functions, events, and ceremonies hosted by the NYPD and external organizations and stakeholders. Those individuals with whom the Panel spoke indicated that the Department Advocate often inquires about certain cases after attending events or functions, suggesting that he is engaged in off-the-record discussions concerning those cases. The Panel also understands that the Department Advocate generally attends these events unaccompanied by other DAO personnel, such as a high-ranking uniformed member of the Department, who could act as a filter for access to the Department Advocate and shield him from external inquiries regarding specific members’ disciplinary matters.
The Panel spoke to the Department Advocate about this issue; he stated that he was directed by superiors to increase DAO’s communication with various stakeholders, such as police unions, in order to increase their visibility into the disciplinary process. The Department Advocate has found that his attendance at such functions has expanded communication with stakeholders and has been helpful in providing insight into DAO’s process, disciplinary trends, and other aspects of the disciplinary process. Although outreach and education are important, the Panel believes that the Department Advocate’s presence at events hosted by or attended by stakeholders also potentially exposes him to improper influence or the appearance of such influence.
Delay in processing of NYPD disciplinary cases is a significant issue. Stakeholders have long expressed the need for speedier disposition of disciplinary cases. Representatives from police unions—especially the Police Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association—complained that officers are in limbo, unable to be promoted or transferred, and uncertain about their futures, while their cases languish. Representatives from citizen advocate groups report that delay frustrates community members who want officers to be promptly sanctioned for wrongful conduct. Those groups also complain that some officers continue to receive benefits, including overtime compensation, while charges are pending against them. In some cases, they note that an officer may accrue enough on-the-job time to resign and collect a pension before his case is resolved.
The Panel reviewed NYPD data showing the average lifespan of disciplinary cases from January 1, 2016 through September 30, 2018. It has also reviewed statistics included in the annual reports of the CCPC showing length of IAB disciplinary investigations.
 The CCPC reviewed a representative sample of IAB investigations during the period from January 1, 2013 through August 30, 2016. See CCPC, Eighteenth Annual Report of the Commission 15-18 (Aug. 2017), available at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ccpc/downloads/pdf/18th-Annual-Report.pdf.