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March 23, 2021
Contact: Jake Oliver,, (347) 361-9983

Leading good government group calls for establishing a Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, allowing the CCRB to appeal the Police Commissioner’s decisions, making the appointment of Police Commissioner subject to advice and consent of the City Council, consolidating agencies with oversight authority, and ending qualified immunity

Recommendations aim to increase transparency and accountability in law enforcement

To view report, click here

New York, N.Y. (March 23, 2021) — Citizens Union, New York’s preeminent good government group, today issued a report outlining a comprehensive agenda for reform to make the New York City Police Department more transparent and accountable. The agenda calls for stronger monitoring and management by City Hall, a much more robust body of laws and regulations governing the police to clarify how police should act and limit the vast amount of discretion the NYPD and police officers currently exercise, and a more effective and transparent system of disciplining police officers accused of misconduct. The report comes in advance of the April 1, 2021 deadline for local police agencies to adopt a plan “that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input,” which was established by an executive order issued by the Governor last June.

“It is important that all functions of government be transparent and accountable to the public, including law enforcement,” said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “These recommendations will strengthen oversight of the NYPD, make law enforcement more accountable to the public, and help strengthen the faith that New Yorkers have in the police officers that serve them.”

Recommendations include:

  • Establish a Deputy Mayor for Public Safety with the expertise and authority to monitor and supervise the Police Department on the Mayor’s behalf.
  • Make the appointment of the Police Commissioner subject to the advice and consent of the City Council.
  • Merge the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD and the Commission to Combat Police Corruption into the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
  • Allow the CCRB to appeal a lesser penalty imposed by the Police Commissioner to the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, who would have final authority over the penalty.
  • Expand the CCRB’s jurisdiction to include allegations of profiling or discrimination.
  • Allow the CCRB to initiate investigations without having to wait for an individual complaint.
  • Provide the CCRB with prompt and full access to footage from body-worn cameras, police officers’ employment history and disciplinary records and all other documents and materials in the possession of the NYPD relevant to its investigations.
  • Transfer disciplinary hearings involving police officers from the NYPD to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH).  
  • Repeal or waive qualified immunity in cases against the state, political subdivisions of the state, and state and local officials.
  • Create a legal framework for policing, by establishing policies through publicly accessible law and regulation covering such areas as use of force, handling of demonstrations and the imposition of disciplinary sanctions.

The recommendations were developed by Citizens Union’s Subcommittee on Policing, which is part of the organization’s Policy Committee. Citizens Union has been studying police accountability and performance in New York City for a decade, and expanded its working group on the issue in light of recent events across the country that have highlighted the need for police reform. The report was co-authored by Citizens Union Foundation Board Members Frederick Schaffer and Alan Rothstein, who co-chair the Policy Committee.

“New Yorkers have a right to a police department that is both transparent and accountable,” said Schaffer.  “The comprehensive recommendations outlined in this report will make the NYPD more responsive to the needs of New Yorkers and help to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

For follow up, please contact Jake Oliver at Anat Gerstein, Inc. at or 347-361-9983

About Citizens Union
For 120 years, Citizens Union (CU) has been a force for transparency, accountability and ethics in New York’s City and State governments. A nonpartisan organization, some of our current initiatives include increased voter participation and civic engagement, greater police accountability, and an accurate 2020 census. Learn more at

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