on the nature of the input, could influence those offices’ recommendations and undermine the integrity of the disciplinary regime.

VII.        THE NYPD SHOULD ADOPT PROTOCOLS TO INSULATE DECISION MAKERS FROM EXTERNAL PRESSURES AND MINIMIZE THE APPEARANCE OF INAPPROPRIATE INFLUENCE OVER THE DISCIPLINARY PROCESS

A.            The Department Should Design and Implement Training and Policies Addressing and Memorializing Informal Communications Concerning Disciplinary Cases

As discussed above, external stakeholders may initiate informal communications with the members of DAO, the First Deputy Commissioner’s Office, and the Commissioner’s Office concerning disciplinary cases. There is no prohibition against NYPD personnel receiving or participating in such communications, which relate to, but which are outside of, the formal disciplinary process and protocols. These communications create opportunities for improper external influence over the adjudication of cases or at least the appearance of such. In addition, DAO, from time to time, receives informal internal inquiries on pending matters from the First Deputy or the Commissioner.

To ensure the integrity and independence of the disciplinary process, the Department should implement guidelines and provide training for all personnel in all three offices, including for the Department Advocate, the First Deputy, and the Commissioner. Those guidelines should address factors that must be considered when discussing disciplinary cases through informal channels and should cover, among other things, the importance of maintaining public perception that the disciplinary process is free from inappropriate influence and what factors members should consider before participating in internal and external functions and events.[125]

The guidelines should further require proper documentation of all such informal communications. Creating a record and maintaining logs of such communications are critical to ensuring accountability and, at the very least, internal transparency about those who have access to key decision makers within the Department. Such logs should be made available for internal audit and inspection by the OIG-NYPD.

B.             The Department Should Consider Adopting a Recusal Policy in Certain Disciplinary Cases

In light of concerns that decision makers who are involved in the disciplinary process could direct the course of certain cases involving individuals with whom they have a personal or familial relationship, the Panel recommends that the Department consider implementing a recusal policy intended to prevent the appearance of impropriety and a potential conflict of interest. One option for the NYPD to consider is the policy currently applicable to the United

[125] The Panel notes that the practice currently in place within DCT is one option for the Department to consider here. In an effort to protect the impartiality of the DCT herself and DCT judges, members of that office advise judges on the propriety of attending certain NYPD and outside events. In an effort to shield them from improper influence and the general appearance of impropriety, DCT judges are often accompanied to functions (where other stakeholders are in attendance) by other members of the office.