Commissioner O'Neill Announces Changes to NYPD Disciplinary System

February 1, 2019

Unveils Plan to Implement Reforms Recommended by Independent Panel

Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill today announced that the NYPD is accepting the Independent Panel's complete list of recommendations to improve the NYPD disciplinary system. The Commissioner convened the Independent Panel earlier this year and today outlined the plan to carry out those changes.

Commissioner O'Neill also announced an NYPD Implementation Panel will now administer the operational, legal and budgetary plan to enact all recommendations. Some of the recommendations can be implemented in the short-term, over the next 30-60 days. Another set of changes will require additional time to take effect. The NYPD will also ask an outside entity to perform an external audit of the overall implementation process.

"I offer my deep and sincere thanks to members of the panel, and their staffs, who have donated their valuable time, skills and efforts to perform a vital public service to New York City," Commissioner James P. O'Neill said. "A fair, clear and consistent discipline system is essential to the police and public alike, and the twin virtues of transparency and accountability are essential to building mutual trust and respect between cops and the communities they serve."

The following recommendations will be put into place in the short-term, within the next 30-60 days:

  • The Department should support amendments to 50-a to increase transparency and enhance accountability (1)
  • The NYPD must guard against unwarranted expansion of the scope of 50-a (2)
  • The NYPD should also enhance its public reporting in line with that of other agencies (3)
  • The NYPD should publish trial room calendars (4)
  • The Police Commissioner should enhance the documentation of variances from disciplinary recommendations (6)

The remaining recommendations will require more time to be fully implemented, and the group will begin the process of effecting these changes immediately.

  • The Department should appoint a Citizens' Liaison (5)
  • The NYPD should adopt protocols to insulate decision makers from external pressures and minimize the appearance of inappropriate influence over the disciplinary process (7)
  • The Department should study and consider adopting a disciplinary matrix (8)
  • The Department should take measures to expedite disciplinary adjudications (9)
  • The Department should strengthen enforcement of false statement disciplinary policies (10)
  • The Department should adopt presumptive penalties in domestic violence cases as recommended by CCPC (11)
  • The Department should upgrade and integrate its Case Management System (12)

Commissioner O'Neill named First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin B. Tucker as the chair of the NYPD Implementation Panel. As part of their work, the Implementation Panel will identify an external organization to audit the NYPD's reformed disciplinary system. The other panel members include:

  • John K. Donohue, Chief of Strategic Initiatives
  • Vincent D. Grippo, Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget
  • Rosemarie Maldonado, Deputy Commissioner Trials
  • Matthew Pontillo, Assistant Chief and Commanding Officer in the Office of the First Deputy Commissioner
  • Ann Prunty, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Legal Matters
  • Joseph Reznick, Deputy Commissioner Internal Affairs
  • Jessica Tisch, Deputy Commissioner Information Technology
  • Cecil Wade, Deputy Chief and Commanding Officer in the Office of the Police Commissioner
  • Ashley Waters, Counsel to the Police Commissioner

In June 2018, Commissioner O'Neill appointed a three-person panel of highly-respected experts to perform an autonomous, exhaustive review of the NYPD discipline system, and make recommended changes to improve it. The panel, whose members are listed below, had the full cooperation of the Department during their seven month review — including unfettered access to all requested documents, information and interviews, and complete independence to explore any and all elements of the disciplinary system. On Friday, January 25, 2019 the panel shared the final report with the NYPD, and on February 1st released it publicly.

Independent Panel Members

Mary Jo White, Chair — Mary Jo White served most recently for four years as Chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and previously served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for nine years. In that capacity, she oversaw major prosecutions of white collar crime, organized crime and international terrorism — including the successful prosecutions of those responsible for the1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Day of Terror Plot, the Manila Air Plot, and the indictment of Osama bin Laden for his role in the 1998 East African embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Ms. White has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of "50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America," and is a recipient of numerous honors. She is currently a litigation partner and Senior Chair at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

Robert L. Capers — Robert L. Capers is the former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), where he served with distinction in that capacity from 2015-2017. He also served as a prosecutor for more than two decades, beginning his career in 1996 at the New York County District Attorney's Office under Robert M. Morgenthau. As United States Attorney, Mr. Capers oversaw high-profile cases such as the extradition of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel; the indictments and extraditions of nearly 30 FIFA officials; and the agreement by a large German bank to pay a record fine for misleading investors in its sale of residential mortgage-backed securities, which contributed to the 2008 financial collapse in the US. He is currently a partner and co-chair of Arent Fox's Government Enforcement & White Collar practice.

Barbara S. Jones — Barbara S. Jones is a former judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) who also served as Chief Assistant to Robert M. Morgenthau, then-District Attorney of New York County. As Assistant U.S. Attorney for SDNY, Ms. Jones served as the chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force Unit. She also chaired the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel, created by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, aimed at assessing the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of sexual assaults in the military. The panel issued a report to Congress in June 2014 with 132 recommendations to the Department of Defense. Ms. Jones has also been selected at various turns by the Federal Communications Commission, the National Football League, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to perform advisory and review functions. Ms. Jones is currently a partner at Bracewell, and focuses her practice on corporate monitorships, compliance issues, internal investigations and arbitrations and mediations.