From the Village Voice:
Earlier this year, the Voice uncovered a troubling pattern of how the NYPD operates, relying on secretly recorded tapes to show that street cops are under intense pressure to achieve seemingly contradictory goals set down by their superiors. Years of recordings, lawsuits, and testimonies by active and retired police officers reveal that Ray Kelly's police department has been on an intense program that punishes innocent bystanders while intimidating and harassing actual crime victims.
We've heard relatively little, however, about the NYPD wing that is supposed to be watching for these kinds of injustices: the Internal Affairs Bureau. Until now.
More officers have come forward, telling the Voice that the secretive police-department-within-a-department is as troubled as the rest of Kelly's operation. To illustrate this, we will look at three unrelated Internal Affairs cases: One involves a Queens woman who says she was stalked, harassed, and impregnated by an NYPD sergeant; the other, a veteran detective stuck in a dead-end job requiring him to watch surveillance video all day; and the third, a gay cop in the Internal Affairs Bureau itself who faced constant harassment over his sexual identity. (The NYPD did not respond to detailed questions about these cases.)
Taken together, the three cases highlight several themes about the current Internal Affairs Bureau.
For one, all IAB complaints are supposed to be confidential. That rule is necessary because police officers who complain about their colleagues can and do face retaliation. But the reality seems to be that an officer's home command will find out fairly quickly that an Internal Affairs complaint has been made. Several officers have complained to the Voice that shortly after they filed complaints with Internal Affairs, their home commands knew about it and then pursued various types of retaliation against them.
Second, whether big or small, IAB cases seem to plod through the system at the same snail's pace. There doesn't seem to be any mechanism to deal quickly with a minor case—an office dispute, for example. Thus, cases drag on, and aggrieved, frustrated cops turn to the courts to resolve their issues. That, in turn, costs the city more money in legal bills and settlements.
Third, it's impossible—even for the people who file the complaints—to find out what was done and what happened with a complaint. Internal Affairs investigators often don't return complainants' phone calls.
Fourth, it seems that often, very little happens with a complaint—and it takes a long time not to happen.
Finally, the system is fairly capricious, and its decisions are often puzzling. In two cases with similar circumstances, one detective might be allowed to retire without charges, while another might be charged and face termination. And because of the insular nature of today's NYPD, it's not likely you'll find out why. Police officers who fall out of favor are just as likely to receive an unfavorable assignment as face a charge—a point made by a former departmental trial commissioner now in private practice.