Americans are hitting the streets to protest cop violence, but complaints against the NYPD have plummeted, dropping 20% since January and even 4% in the two months since the George Floyd demonstrations, records show.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city’s police watchdog, received 814 complaints alleging cop misconduct from May 26 through July 19, data provided to The Post shows. The number of complaints stood at 852 for the same time period last year.
From January through July 28, complaints totaled 2,534, compared with 3,151 for the first seven months of 2019. The decrease, though, doesn’t mean cops and civilians are suddenly breaking bread.
“We are in the height of anti-police rhetoric,” Sgt. Joseph Imperatrice, the founder of Blue Lives Matter, told The Post. “It is not subsiding by any means.”
Imperatrice attributes the decline primarily to three things: the coronavirus pandemic, which “played a big role…due to (fewer) interpersonal interactions during the outbreak”; the reduction to “zero proactive police units on a precinct level”; and the department’s decision to disband the 600-cop anti-crime unit in mid-June.
The sergeant contends the cops who had complaints filed against them were targeted because they “consistently make arrests” — not because they’re at fault. A complaint, he told The Post, “is a retaliatory instrument that has been used as a tactic by the bad guys.”
Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, agrees with Imperatrice on the fewer police-citizen encounters because of COVID-19 and what he describes as “de-policing” by the NYPD, which translates to “fewer arrests and summonses = less interactions post COVID,” as well as the disbanding of the anti-crime team, “which probably got its fair share of CCRB gripes.”
But Giacalone also suspects the drop reflects a greater empathy for the cops by New Yorkers who are turned off by the violent anti-police demonstrations taking place across the country.
A spokesman for the review board wouldn’t speculate on the reasons for the decline.
“It is difficult to know what exactly causes the numbers to fluctuate year-to-year or prompts civilians to file complaints, without further analysis,” he said.
The CCRB recorded 421 complaints in May and 516 in June, which was the height of the Floyd protests. The June figure — an 11% spike from June 2019’s 464 — marked the most complaints filed in any month for 2020, the data shows.
July complaints totaled 230, down 52% from 483 in the previous July, when NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was facing a departmental trial in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Pantaleo was subsequently fired last August.
“As more New Yorkers become aware of the CCRB, as they did in July 2019 during the Pantaleo trial and June 2020 during the protests in support of black lives, more New Yorkers may utilize the CCRB,” theorized the CCRB spokesman.