New rules following Bell shooting

In the wake of the November 25, 2006 Sean Bell shooting, a special panel appointed by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to review New York Police Department (NYPD) undercover procedures has announced 19 recommendations.
These include mandatory breathalyzer tests of all police officers - on duty or off duty - whose firearm discharge results in injury or death. They also include changes to improve how undercover officers are recruited, trained, supervised, and retained.
Kelly has directed the NYPD’s executive command staff to devise implementation plans or to identify any challenges or barriers to implementation.
“I want to thank the members of the committee for all of the time they donated to this important undertaking,” said Kelly. “It has resulted in a comprehensive set of thoughtful recommendations to make police undercover operations safer, more effective, and better understood by the public, while improving recruitment, training, supervision, retention and accountability.”
The administration of breathalyzer tests will most likely begin in September.
The committee will continue to meet to address any other issues that may arise as implementation moves forward.
The committee’s recommendations include:

  • Developing methods for the psychological screening of candidates for undercover assignments
  • Providing periodic psychological screening and counseling for active undercover officers whose assignments are the most stressful in the NYPD and provide training for managing stress
  • Developing specific training for supervisors who oversee undercover operations with an emphasis on management, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills
  • Developing a community outreach program that educates the public about the risks, challenges and necessity of undercover operations
  • Requiring tactical plans for undercover operations to include relevant information about the neighborhood in which the operation will take place
  • Requiring the administration of a breathalyzer test in all cases in which a member of the service is involved in a firearms discharge incident, on duty or off duty, which results in injury or death
  • Clarifying NYPD procedures regarding the consumption of alcohol by undercover officers during operations to limit such consumption to two drinks per tour and provide training on credible ways to avoid drinking altogether when pressured to do so by subjects
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