How does the campaign plan to establish the Elected Civilian Review Board?

The Elected Civilian Review Board would be established through an amendment to the NY City Charter. An amendment to the NYC charter can be proposed to the NYC electorate in three ways: by the Mayor, by City Council, or by individuals through a petitioning process.

The Mayor can change the NYC Charter through executive action, which doesn’t allow for a grassroots campaign to exert any pressure or input. Due to its bureaucratic structure, the petitioning process has been historically ineffective for advancing change in New York City.

Therefore, the campaign has decided to pressure and work through City Council as our primary strategy for getting the ECRB amendment on the ballot. This strategy provides the most opportunities for building public awareness of the campaign.

In order to be implemented, the Charter Amendment would first have to be passed by City Council. It would then appear on the ballot in next NYC general election, to be voted on by the public.

Who is drafting the legislation for the NYC Charter?

A working group of volunteer campaign members researching charter law and drafting the proposed amendment to establish an ECRB. This group is working with lawyers, legal aid organizations and institutions, and law students from around the city. The legislation drafted by the working group is regularly presented to the general membership of the ECRB campaign for democratic discussion and approval.

What is the ECRB draft legislation based on?

To draft the ECRB amendment, the legislation working group is using a proposal from the 1990s to amend the LA City Charter by establishing a Civilian Review Board. This proposal was the result of a grassroots organizing effort by a coalition of organizations and individuals, including the Freedom Socialist Party and former Black Panther Michael Zinzun. The working group is also reviewing the NYC Charter and the New York State Constitution, in consultation with legal professionals.

Would an ECRB conflict with state law?

No - because NY State Civil service law empowers local powers to determine discipline (currently the Commissioner, and with our amendment, the ECRB via the Commissioner).

[Section 75 of Civil Service Law] outlines the procedures for disciplining public employees in New York State: "The hearing upon such charges shall be held by the officer or body having the power to remove the person against whom such charges are preferred." Therefore, Civil Service Law explicitly acknowledges that a governmental body such as the proposed ECRB can have disciplinary authority.

Who will be eligible to run for the ECRB?

Any resident age 18 or over will be eligible for the Board; our goal is to create a system that selects candidates from the local community over the political systems in place. Our plan combines existing City Council districts into 17 neighborhood districts, each of which would elect representatives to the Board.

What are the differences between the ECRB and the current Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)?

The amendment we are drafting would replace the current Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) with the Elected Civilian Review Board (ECRB). The similarities pretty much begin and end with the closeness of their acronyms.

Whereas the Civilian Complaint Review Board only has the power to recommend discipline in the case of misconduct, the ECRB would be fully empowered to issue binding rulings regarding the discipline of police officers and to pursue investigation of criminal-level misconduct through an Independent Special Prosecutor.

Whereas the Civilian Complaint Review Board is all appointed by the Mayor, City Council, and Police Commissioner, the ECRB will be an elected body representative of and accountable to the community it serves.

What’s the difference between the Elected Civilian Review Board and Community Policing?

Community Policing is a program promoted by politicians and police officials as the solution to the antagonism between the community and police. Under the guise of promoting “community involvement,” it actually reinforces police domination by enlisting community members as agents to surveil their neighbors and report on their activities. In this way, “community policing” reinforces the strength of the police state.

An ECRB would shift power into the hands of communities by empowering accountable representatives in every neighborhood to respond to cases of police abuse. These representatives would enact discipline and challenge the domination of our communities by the police.

What opposition will the ECRB face from the City Council, the Mayor’s Office, and/or the Police Union and supporting organizations?

History has shown that there is major opposition to police reform of any magnitude by the police union and organizations (like the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the Fraternal Order of Police), the mayor, and conservative members of the City Council. The only way to overcome this opposition is by building a mass movement including organized labor that can pressure City Council into movement.

Support from rank and file unionists and the organizational power of unions will be a necessary component of any challenge to the police union.

Does the proposed ECRB infringe on police officers’ right of collective bargaining?

No, it would not change their collective bargaining rights. To clarify, police officers are already prevented by law from addressing disciplinary procedure in contract negotiations.

In The City of New York v. MacDonald in 1994 it was decided—and upheld by the Appellate Court and in subsequent cases—that disciplinary procedures as outlined in the City Charter [section 434] and in the Administrative Code [section 14-115] could not be superseded by contract demands.

These two sections define the authority of the Police Commissioner in disciplinary matters. The proposed Elected Civilian Review Board legislation amends these so that the Commissioner’s authority remains intact except in those specific cases under the purview of the ECRB.

Short answer - the ECRB would not violate the rights of cops to collectively bargain because they CAN'T negotiate discipline through a union contract anyway. The charter ( which we will change) is a the higher law that determines discipline proceedings for cops. Union contracts can't override this.

How can we overcome the Mayor’s veto power?

If the proposed amendment to establish an ECRB passes the City Council, the Mayor is likely to veto it. Only a 2/3 majority vote by the City Council within thirty days of the mayor’s decision can overturn the veto. Our goal as a campaign is to pressure the Council to fight for the ECRB to the fullest extent.