NewsNew York City Council Questions NYPD Commitment To Protocol

New York City Council Questions NYPD Commitment To Protocol

Yusuf Salaam, the chair of the committee, was once wrongfully convicted of the rape of a jogger in 1989, and at the council meeting, he pointed out to NYPD officials that he and his office were receiving a number of letters from incarcerated people informing them that they had been wrongfully convicted.

The New York City Council Committee on Public Safety is investigating whether the NYPD is doing enough to prevent wrongful convictions; and leading that charge is a man who knows something about being wrongfully convicted of a crime due to the actions of the NYPD.

As CBS News reported, Yusuf Salaam, the chair of the committee, was once wrongfully convicted of the rape of a jogger in 1989. At the council meeting, he pointed out to NYPD officials that he and his office were receiving a number of letters from incarcerated people informing them that they had been wrongfully convicted.

Yesterday, the Committee on Public Safety held a hearing to examine NYPD’s investigative procedures and safeguards. The committee learned more about NYPD’s interrogation tactics, forensic analysis, and recent reforms to address wrongful convictions. pic.twitter.com/f7h8umbePn— New York City Council (@NYCCouncil) February 27, 2024

“There is a moral necessity for police departments to examine their internal practices and ensure steps are taken to mitigate the risk of wrongful convictions,” Salaam said. 

Salaam continued, “As I was sworn into office, I also received hundreds if not thousands, of phone calls (from) people that are in prison right now,” Salaam said. “My staff receives so many letters, and we’re trying to figure out how do we address this? So many people are telling us, ‘I, like you, am in prison for a crime that I didn’t commit.’”

According to City & State New York, Salaam was not the only figure to question the NYPD’s practices. Cassandra Kelly, a defense attorney at the Legal Aid Society, said that the department often does not share all of its evidence with prosecutors. Instead, Kelly insinuated that the NYPD is content to wage a media or social media campaign using body cam footage instead of being transparent with lawyers. 

“Despite the ubiquitous surveillance and technology that is touted by the NYPD, prosecutors claim that they are unable to expeditiously obtain discovery on criminal cases because of their inability to obtain it from NYPD,” Kelly said. “Meanwhile, when it serves the interests of the NYPD, these same hard-to-get materials – body-worn camera footage, surveillance video, images of evidence – will be posted on NYPD’s social media feeds or released to the press almost immediately.”

Like Kelly, Council member Tiffany Cabán, a former defense attorney, also made suggestions that the NYPD needed to collaborate more with the DA’s office, saying that they should give the district attorney’s office a more direct line of communication and access to the department’s data management system. 

NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny agreed that wrongful convictions erode the very concept of the justice system, telling the council, “Every wrongful conviction is too many. It is counter to everything that we stand for,” Kenny said. “When the wrong person is arrested and later convicted, it is a failure of the justice system.”

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Source: Black Enterprise

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