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Civil rights advocates in the city note, however, that there has been a cost to the new strategy, revealed by steady citizen complaints against more aggressive NYPD officers during the past several years and continuing impunity for many officers who commit human rights violations despite the recent reorganization of both the civilian review board and the police department’s internal affairs bureau. In August 1997, after the alleged torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by police officers made national headlines and outraged city residents, the anti-crime record of the mayor and police department was tarnished. In uncharacteristic fashion, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir condemned the officers implicated in the incident as well as those who reportedly did nothing to stop it or report it. In the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board’s (CCRB) semiannual report for thefirst half of 1997, African-Americans and Latinos filed 78 percent of complaints against the police. The police force is 68 percent white. During the independent CCRB’sfirst three-and-a-half years, only 1 percent of all cases disposed of led to the disciplining of a police officer, and out of 18,336 complaints, there have been just one dismissal of an officer stemming from a CCRB-substantiated case. If the studies by civil rights groups and the Mollen Commission are any indication, officers who commit abuses are not being dealt with adequately.
In that incident, after protesters allegedly threw items at mounted police officers attempting to clear the park, police reacted by beating anyone nearby with their nightsticks, including uninvolved restaurant patrons and business owners. In the end, administrative charges were presented in seventeen cases, with officers disciplined in thirteen of them.
Officers primarily from the 30th, 9th, 46th, 75th and 73rd precincts were caught selling drugs and beating suspects. Concluded Cawley, “They [re…