The current uniformed strength of the NYPD is approximately 34,500. While most NYPD officers carry out their duty in a reasonable and respectful manner, with that many officers on the streets, it is all but inevitable that some will overstep the bounds of the law and use excessive force.
According to the New York Daily News, there were 5,969 complaints of police abuse in New York City in 2011. At the end of 2012, there were just 5,760 complaints, a reduction of 3.5 percent.
The numbers would make it appear that the NYPD is making progress in reducing instances of police brutality and excessive force. In reality, however, the drop in complaints in 2012 is simply because many people were disenfranchised, unable to make complaints about police brutality and unsure of where to turn for help.
Hurricane Sandy to blame for knocking out hotline, repairs sluggish at best
When Hurricane Sandy swept through New York last fall, the city was brought to a standstill. Many residents were without power for an extended period. The electricity soon began to flow again, but it took much longer to reconnect another casualty of Sandy’s destruction: the city’s police complaint phone hotline.
Without the 800 number many citizens turn to as a first resource in reporting police brutality, claims plummeted between November and January. According to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent NYPD watchdog group, an average of 249 police abuse complaints are reported by phone every month. After Sandy, with the hotline down, the CCRB received only about 29 complaints per month.
The police complaint hotline was finally reactivated in mid February. But, for those who witnessed or experienced police brutality in the interim and didn’t know where else to turn, the three-and-a-half month outage was more than just an inconvenience.
A New York City civil rights attorney can help address police brutality
If you or a family member experienced police brutality, whether you were able to report it through the hotline or not, you may have a claim for monetary compensation. A legal claim can not only help you recover the monetary damages you deserve, it can be a powerful message to the NYPD, a real incentive for change that helps ensure others do not suffer a similar fate.
If you’ve been unfairly abused, harassed, injured or embarrassed by the NYPD, contact a New York City police brutality lawyer today; you owe it to yourself, and you owe it to your fellow citizens.