Legal aid urges broader investigation of force and detentions in NYPD probe

May 10, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Protesters face off with NYPD officers at a demonstration in New York City amid calls for a thorough investigation into the department's social media tactics and protest responses. Photo courtesy of NYPD via AP
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The New York City Office of the Inspector General for the New York Police Department is opening an investigation into the alleged unethical and unprofessional use of departmental social media accounts by the NYPD.

This probe addresses concerns that the NYPD has been using its official social media platforms to disseminate misinformation, malign protesters, and potentially chill future protests.

The investigation comes in response to actions by NYPD officials that have included direct insults toward reporters and criticism of elected officials. Specific posts under scrutiny include comments from NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell, who accused students of “underlying radical indoctrination” and highlighted incendiary material, and NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry, who spoke out against “tools of agitators.”

“We welcome the announcement that the OIG-NYPD will conduct an official investigation of the NYPD’s recent use of social media, which has served as a cudgel to spread misinformation, malign protesters, chill future protests, and more — a use completely inappropriate for a police department that purports to exude ‘courtesy, professionalism and respect,’” said a statement issued by the Legal Aid Society.

“However, we implore the OIG-NYPD to also review the NYPD’s disproportionate use of force during the crackdown, as well as to examine why New Yorkers charged with low-level crimes were illegally detained and processed through the system instead of receiving an appearance ticket, resulting in the prolonged detention of demonstrators in violation of New York’s long-standing 24-hour arrest to arraignment requirement.”

These developments follow widespread criticism of the NYPD’s handling of protests at local universities and colleges, where the police are accused of using excessive force and violating constitutional rights. There are also allegations that the NYPD detained demonstrators on low-level offenses longer than legally permitted without issuing appearance tickets as required.

The Department of Investigation (DOI), led by spokeswoman Diane Struzzi, confirmed that the probe would examine these social media exchanges and relevant city policies. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office criticized the focus on NYPD’s actions, suggesting that some council members have similarly misused social media without facing equivalent scrutiny.


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