What to Know
Hundreds of NYPD cops who went to departmental disciplinary hearings from 2011 through 2015 were allowed to keep their jobs, BuzzFeed says
The offenses included lying, beating civilians and sexually harassing civilians or fellow officers
Punishments were unequally distributed, but the officers who committed fireable offenses were allowed to keep their jobs
At least 300 NYPD officers who committed fireable offenses on the job from 2011 through 2015 -- including lying, cheating, stealing and assaulting civilians -- were allowed to keep their jobs, an investigation by BuzzFeed News has found.
The news website combed through hundreds of pages of the notoriously secret internal NYPD files, leaked to them by a source who was kept anonymous by the site and verified through more than 100 phone calls, visits to officers' homes, interviews with prosecutors and a review of court records.
One officer in the Bronx was accused of viciously beating a man with his police baton after the man insulted him; the man sustained a gash that required 12 staples to close, according to BuzzFeed News. The same officer was also accused of falsely arresting another person, assaulting yet another and fabricating evidence against a fourth.
That officer was forfeited just 45 vacation days in his internal hearing on a number of disciplinary charges, and he remains on patrol, earning almost $120,000 last year, BuzzFeed reports.
At least 50 officers were found guilty of lying on official records, to grand juries, to prosecutors or to internal affairs investigators, but were kept on the force, according to BuzzFeed. Thirty-eight officers were accused of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily; 57 were found guilty of driving under the influce; and 71 were guilty of ticket-fixing. One threatened to kill someone, and another sexually harassed and inappropriately touched a fellow officer.
The cops all faced disciplinary hearings for the acts and were all assigned "dismissal probation" by the police commissioner, who has final authority in the disciplinary decisions, according to BuzzFeed. That allowed them to keep their jobs at their usual salary, the only punishment being potential less overtime and no possibility of promotion. The probation usually only lasted a year.
Bill Bratton and Ray Kelly were commissioners during the years covered by the probation files obtained by BuzzFeed.
The secrecy of these types of disciplinary records make it hard not only for a potentially innocent civilian going up against an officer in trial to decide whether to take a plea deal, but fellow officers have no way of knowing how equally and justly punishments are spread across cases, BuzzFeed says.
One officer was suspended 122 days and docked pay for another 30 for telling a surpervisor that, as a single mother, she needed a couple days to arrange for child care before being assigned a new post. Others were assigned dismissal probation and transferred to new jobs after raising concerns about illegal quotas or discriminatory treatment.
When reached for comment, the NYPD reiterated the statement it gave BuzzFeed News.
"The department is not interested in terminating officers that don't need to be terminated. We're interested in keeping employees and making our employees obey the rules and do the right thing," said Kevin Richardson, the deputy commissioner of the department advocate's office. "But where there are failing that we realize this person should be separated from the department, this police commissioner and the prior police commissioner have shown a willingness to do that."
Richardson also told BuzzFeed News that since he joined the department in 2014, he has worked to make the process fairer and reassessed the penalties given to officers guilty of misconduct.
The PBA has declined to News 4 on the report.