Police department disciplinary trials can often have seemingly endless delays. Many people that attempt to seek justice for suffering from police brutality or other forms of misconduct can wait years before the trial even sees the inside of departmental courtroom. While the actions of the department itself can often result in lengthy delays, there are other issues that can cause the departmental trial process to slow down.
A major factor that can contribute to a delay is plea negotiations. If the defense and prosecution are trying to work out a plea deal, it can sometimes lead to months long delays. In some cases, especially where the plaintiff has a prior criminal record, the prosecutor will work harder to strike a plea in order to avoid presenting the case before a departmental judge. This is because these judges can often be skeptical of people filing a complaint against police misconduct. Such skepticism is typically heightened if the plaintiff has a prior criminal offense or has been involved in a previous lawsuit against the city.
Steps being taken
Some of the ways that the review board is currently exploring to reduce the length of time it takes to resolve a case include reviewing the docket more often, drafting the initial charges more expeditiously, and monitoring the delays that happen during each stage of the process.
Prior to 2013, only Police Department lawyers had the authority to prosecute law enforcement officers in disciplinary proceedings. That changed when the review board began prosecuting officers as well. The change in proceedings is clear. During the year and a half before the review board lawyers began to prosecute cases, not one police officer stood trial. Since the change in 2013, review board lawyers have prosecuted 187 cases and walked away with 68 convictions.
Room for improvement
Even with the changes that have been made in the last several years, there is still plenty of room left for improvement. Currently, the review board is considering a measure to limit the length of time the Police Department has to request a reconsideration of the review board’s investigation.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to police brutality or misconduct, you can file a complaint against the officer with a civilian oversight review board in New York. However, you should prepare yourself for a long process that can last for years.