By Rich Bockmann
The number of complaints filed with the independent body investigating allegations of police misconduct dropped slightly in the borough last year, with areas of southeast Queens continuing to account for the lion’s share.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board, a body of 13 non-NYPD members that investigates claims against officers, reported 895 complaints in Queens in 2012, down 16 complaints from the previous year.
The board’s jurisdiction gives it the authority to look into allegations of excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy or the use of offensive language.
Since 2008, no two precincts have combined for more complaints than downtown Jamaica’s 103rd Precinct and South Jamaica’s 113th.
There were 98 complaints out of the 103rd last year, when police stopped almost 13,000 people. In the 113th, there were 100 complaints. The precinct made almost 9,000 stops in 2012.
Elmhurst’s 110th Precinct (38 complaints) and its neighbor to the north, the 115th (55 complaints), each saw 18 fewer complaints last year. The 110th had a little more than 9,000 stops, while stops in the 115th dropped 55 percent last year to a few more than 8,000.
Astoria/Long Island City’s 114th Precinct saw an increase of 18 complaints to 81 amid about 8,500 stops.
Last year, the NYPD reached an agreement by which it would hand over prosecutorial power in administrative trials to the CCRB in instances where the board found police misconduct.
“Important elements of the agreement will bring transparency to the disciplinary process, increasing public confidence that officers who commit misconduct will be subjected to vigorous and effective prosecution,” CCRB Chairman Daniel Chu, a former prosecutor in the Queens district attorney’s office, said.
The CCRB’s prosecution unit officially took over last April, though the police commissioner still retained the legal authority to discipline officers.
Members of communities where relations with police are strained have long been frustrated with what they see as a board lacking meaningful authority.
“I think the CCRB historically is a phenomenal idea. It just doesn’t have the teeth, the level of enforcement,” said Rosedale attorney Jacques Leandre. “One of the things we found is that by making a complaint there’s some kind of record.”
Leandre advises community members on what to do when stopped by police, and he said often people are not in the right state of mind after a stop to think to take down an officer’s badge number or get the other information necessary to file a credible complaint.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.