It is the policy of the Yonkers Police Department to completely investigate all allegations of misconduct involving members of the force in order to preserve the integrity and reputation of the department as well as to protect personnel against unjust accusations. As the department recognizes that the general public has a vested interest in its police department, a Police Professional Standards Review Committee has been set up comprised of civilians and sworn personnel. Representation on the committee affords the community the opportunity to review internal investigations that significantly impact on their interests.
The Police Professional Standards Committee consists of eight members, seven of which are selected by the Police Commissioner. The Commissioner selects three Department members of the rank of sergeant or above and, in consultation with the Task Force on Police-Community relations, civil rights, civil liberties, religious, community, and civic organizations in the City of Yonkers, four civilian panelists from the community. One Police Officer, recommended by the President of the Police Benevolent Association, is also chosen for membership on the Committee.
Supervising officers cannot hear cases concerning officers under their supervision and all Committee members are subject to disqualification because of a personal bias or prejudice. Civilian panelists also must be Yonkers residents for a continuous period of one year, reflect the diversity of the City's population, cannot be a present holder of any public office, and cannot have experience as a law enforcement professional. They must also attend and successfully complete the Yonkers Civilian Police Academy within one year of being selected. Four alternate panelists are also selected by the Police Commissioner in the event that a member is disqualified, excused, sick, or otherwise unable to serve when needed. All committee members serve two year terms.
Responsibilities of the Committee
The Police Professional Standards Committee is convened by the Police Commissioner in order to review completed investigations into allegations of police misconduct. These investigations may include allegations of excessive use of force; abuse of authority; discourtesy; and use of offensive language, including slurs relating to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and disability. Committee members review the fairness, thoroughness, completeness, and timeliness of completed investigations and identify other areas for further investigation. They then complete a report of their findings and return it to the commanding officer of the Office of Professional Standards and the Police Commissioner. In the report, they may also recommend any policy and procedure or training changes they feel are necessary. All investigations and Committee findings are confidential.
The Police Commissioner issues bi-annual reports on the committee's activities. These reports include the total number of complaints filed and their disposition, the number of cases recommended for discipline or other action, including dismissal of allegations by the committee, and the actions taken by the Police Commissioner in each of those cases.
Public Education Campaign
Another responsibility of the Committee is to conduct a public education campaign that informs the public of the existence and purpose of the Professional Standards Committee. The committee also informs people of their rights in encounters with police officers and procedures for filing a complaint of misconduct.