The head of Washington, D.C.’s Office of Police Complaints has been appointed the first inspector general of the New York City Police Department, officials announced today.
Philip Eure will lead an office of about 50 staffers, who will be responsible for ensuring that the city’s police department follows the law when it comes to controversial tactics like stop-and-frisk.
“After more than two decades of law enforcement and police accountability work, I have learned that independent review of a city’s policing practices is an essential part of any modern law enforcement regime. At the same time, public safety and public confidence in the police are not at odds with each other,” Mr. Eure said at the announcement, made this morning by Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters.
The implementation of the inspector general legislation was staunchly opposed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his police chief, Ray Kelly, and other police brass, who warned it would create confusion in the chain of command, compromising officers’ and public safety.
But Mr. Eure refuted the suggestions.
“I don’t believe there will be any confusion on the street. I don’t think there’s any confusion about whose orders are to be taken. Commissioner Bratton is the commissioner of the Police Department. The Police Department follows his orders,” he said., further insisting the new office had an important role, despite the existence of several other review agencies, including the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
“The NYPD IG will not be redundant. It will, however, fill a void: examining the Police Department’s practices in a comprehensive and independent way, identifying issues of concern, and proposing reforms that add to the ongoing efforts to build a stronger relationship between New Yorkers and their police force,” he said.
Mr. Peters said that Mr. Eure had been chosen “over a dozen potential candidates,” but described the selection as a “very, very truncated process,” with most of the interviews conducted this month ahead of an April 1 deadline.
“In New York City, we are fortunate to be protected by the nation’s largest, best-trained and most effective police force, and with the appointment of Philip Eure as Inspector General, we are today further enhancing the NYPD’s efforts,” said the mayor. “Independent police review is a critical component in the constant improvement of our public safety efforts, and will help us enhance the operations, programs and practices of the NYPD, while also strengthening the NYPD’s relationship with the community – all vital elements in keeping us safe. Phil has decades of law enforcement experience and is one of the nation’s premier police accountability experts, making him an excellent choice to serve as the city’s first NYPD Inspector General.”
Mr. Eure previously served as a senior attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, where he represented victims of employment discrimination, according to an official bio. He also served as an adviser to the Government of Haiti, was formerly the president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement and hold a law degree from Harvard.
Still Mr. Eure remained vague when asked about the specific of his policy plans.
“Let me say at the outset, I think it’s premature to go into detail with respect to the changes that might come about, because I haven’t started my job yet,” he cautioned. “I’ll be consulting obviously with my boss, Commissioner Peters, and the Police Department, and learning about the information and the policies and practices. So in terms of what we’ll be looking at, I think the law is a very good guide to that.”
News of the appointment was also heralded by those who fought to create the position, which was originally vetoed by the former mayor.
“Among the qualities that we wanted in any Inspector General choice is someone of unquestioned integrity who understands that years of deteriorating relations between the New York Police Department and those that they are sworn to protect and defend-including communities of more color- does nothing to keep this city safe,” said Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, the lead sponsors of the Community Safety Act, which created the IG.
“We believe that Mr. Eure has all of the qualifications one would want from an Inspector General, having led Washington D.C’s Office of Police Complaints since this office’s inception, to his experience as a prosecutor with the United Stated Department of Justice and his expertise in police oversight,” they said.
“Today’s appointment of Philip Eure as the first NYPD inspector general is a step towards beginning the process of ensuring true accountability and oversight for the NYPD, something that has been absent in our city,” added group Communities United for Police Reform added in a statement.
“In addition to working with the federal court-appointed monitor to ensure that stop-and-frisk abuses end, the inspector general can review the disparate impact of the NYPD’s enforcement of minor offenses on low-income communities of color, the disturbing patterns related to police brutality and killings of unarmed New Yorkers and those with psychiatric disabilities, the surveillance of Muslim communities and political groups, and basic transparency by the department,” they concluded.