De Blasio slow to make police-oversight appointment

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William Bratton and Bill de Blasio visit the 25th precinct in Harlem. (Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)
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As a candidate and mayor, Bill de Blasio stressed the importance of reforming NYPD practices.

But three months into his mayoral tenure, de Blasio has yet to name anyone to lead the Civilian Complaint Review Board, whose last chairman, Daniel Chu, stepped down on Jan. 1, the first day of the mayor's term.

De Blasio emphasized repairing relationships between police officers and the communities they serve during his campaign. While he focused most on reining in the use of the controversial police practice known as stop-and-frisk, he also touted his work in enhancing the oversight capabilities of the CCRB, which investigates charges of police misconduct. 

In his campaign policy book he boasted that he "helped lead the fight for real power for the Civilian Complaint Review Board by introducing legislation to create true budgetary independence and greater prosecutorial authority for this important oversight agency" during his time as a city councilman.

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Councilman Dan Garodnick, who worked with de Blasio on legislation to reform the board, told Capital it was important that the appointment happen soon.

"The mayor and City Council have made important strides over the past year to make the NYPD more accountable, including a 'memorandum of understanding' for our civilian board to have some prosecutorial authority," he said. "And to fully effectuate that goal, we will need leadership at agencies like the CCRB.

"This is a big appointment for police accountability," he added. "A chair sets policy and gives direction to this agency, which is constantly pushing to have its recommendations on discipline upheld."

A mayoral spokeswoman said de Blasio "will soon appoint a chairperson to the CCRB who will ensure civilian complaints are heard and high standards of accountability are in place."

Without a chairperson, the CCRB has continued to hear citizens' cases--substantiating 62 between January and March, which is on par with the number of cases it held up during the first three months of 2013, an administration source said.

During a recent budget hearing at the city council, CCRB member Bishop Taylor requested an increase in funding from the current proposed Fiscal Year 2015 allocation of $12.2 million.

"The CCRB expects a significant increase in operations and activity in the upcoming fiscal year," Taylor told the Council's public safety committee last week.

De Blasio recently dropped former mayor Michael Bloomberg's appeal of a federal case ruling against the department's use of stop-and-frisk. And he plans to announce the appointment of an inspector general to oversee the NYPD by April 1.

The inspector general was mandated by a bill passed into law over Bloomberg's veto last year.

De Blasio also dropped Bloomberg's legal action against another police-reform bill passed last year to facilitate individual lawsuits by people who feel they were racially profiled during a police stop.