On Thursday, a new bill was introduced in the New York City Council that would mandate the city’s Department of Investigation to maintain a referral system for complaints about NYPD officers lying in court and mandate that the agency probe such complaints.
The bill authored by Councilman Lincoln Restler (D-Brooklyn) wants DOI to substantiate whether complaints are valid and, if so, to conduct a further investigation and publish a report of its findings.
“There is widespread documentation of officers giving false or misleading testimony, withholding exculpatory evidence, intimidating witnesses — all to justify unjust arrests and secure convictions that can only be described as wrongful,” Restler said.
“Prosecutors have been left to their own devices, maintaining their own lists of police officers who can not be trusted in a court of law. We must step up to do our part to root out this rot in our justice system, and we must go further — we must actually hold officers accountable when they engage in evidentiary misconduct,” Restler added.
Restler revealed, based on their study, that even though district attorneys keep track of cops they suspect of lying, a defined process doesn’t currently exist to hold those officers accountable. His aim with the new bill is to change that.
Based on his bill, if the Department of Investigation substantiates a claim of evidentiary misconduct, all relevant parties — including the city’s five district attorneys would be notified.
He added that if DOI determines misconduct was intentional, it would then be required to probe prior cases involving the officer or officers in question.
Moreover, Restler said the bill would also require the NYPD to hand over any relevant documents and body-worn camera footage within seven days of a request from DOI related to one of its misconduct probes.
Restler added that the NYPD would also be required to make any employees identified as relevant to such a probe available for questioning.
Sources said fellow Brooklyn Democratic Council members, including Sandy Nurse, Crystal Hudson, Chi Ossé, and several others, support the bill.