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Bloomberg proposes more CCRB funding

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Despite the proposed funding increase, questions swirl about whether the agency receives sufficient funding. As the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell continues to unfold in southeast Queens, there have been persistent questions about whether the board operates independently of the Police Department.The Civilian Complaint Review Board receives about $10 million a year from the city and in the budget he recently unveiled. Bloomberg proposed adding $1.5 million to the agency's budget, bringing its total annual allocation to about $11.5 million.Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) argued last week that the board has been sabotaged by a lack of funding since its inception in 1993."They don't have the staff to handle the complaints," Weprin told reporters during a break in the Tri-Level Legislative hearing on the Bell shooting held last Thursday in Greenwich Village. "Ten million dollars is ridiculous. This is a step in the right direction, but it's still underfunded."Weprin said that because the board lacks appropriate staff, many complaints are not investigated for months or even years.The board came up frequently during the Tri-Level hearing, where civil rights lawyers argued that the agency is simply an arm of the Police Department and does not have the independence to fairly investigate allegations of police misconduct.Prominent Civil Rights attorney Norman Siegel told the legislators on the panel that the board should be required to investigate complaints within four months of receiving them. Another problem with the board, according to Siegel, is the fact that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has the final say over what, if any, discipline is handed out to officers who are found to have engaged in misconduct.Civilian investigators look into complaints received by the board, then refer the matter to the board's 13 members - five of whom (one from each borough) are appointed by the City Council, three appointed by the police commissioner and five by the mayor - who then determine if the complaint can be substantiated.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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