NEW YORK - According to an investigation by BuzzFeed News released Monday, internal NYPD reports show that employees who "lied, cheated, stole, or assaulted New York City residents" between 2011 and 2015, among other fireable offenses, kept their jobs. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, fighting, or unnecessarily firing their weapons.
At least two dozen of the employees who committed offenses worked in schools, BuzzFeed reports.
In each instance of wrongdoing, the police commissioner assigned the employee in question to "dismissal probation," for a period of one year, a penalty that does not affect the officer's position or salary. The probation records cover a period of time when the department was headed by both Bill Bratton and Ray Kelly.
BuzzFeed News reports that it obtained hundreds of pages of secret files from a source who wishes to remain anonymous, and that its reporters subsequently verified the records "through more than 100 calls to NYPD employees, visits to officers' homes, interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers, and a review of thousands of pages of court records."
Under state law, disciplinary files are not normally not shared with the public. New York, California, and Delaware are the only states in the nation to have laws that block the public release of police misconduct records.
In the coming months, BuzzFeed reports it will publish a database of NYPD officers and civilian employees who were given "dismissal probation."
According to the NYPD, another 473 officers who received probation were either forced to leave or resigned.
In a response to BuzzFeed, NYPD's Kevin Richardson said that "the department is not interested in terminating officers that don't need to be terminated. We're interested in keeping employees and making our employees obey the rules and do the right thing," adding that since he joined the department in 2014, he has been reviewing penalties for misconduct in order to make the process fairer.