September 27, 2018

Radical Women Testimony to the Charter Revision Commission 2019

Manhattan, NY

Good Evening Commissioners. My name is Betty Maloney, and I’m here as a representative of Radical Women. I am a retired guidance counselor and member of the American Federation of Teachers, and a former rape crisis counselor.

Radical Women is a national organization of women engaged in grassroots activism aimed at eliminating sexism, racism, homophobia, and labor exploitation. We recognize that women have a strong stake in the creation of an Elected Civilian Review Board because of how our lives are affected by widespread police misconduct and violence.

Women—especially women of color and gender- or sex-role non-conforming women—are often seen as targets for sexual harassment and assault. We face extortion to perform sexual acts for cops in order to avoid arrest, or to protect our children from harassment. Our reports when we are victims of crime are not believed or are ignored. And too many of us have lost our children to police violence.

It is appalling that the CCRB has only in the last few months begun to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Until then, all these complaints were referred to NYPD Internal Affairs. The NYPD has demonstrated a complete inability to police itself, a reality only more extreme when dealing with attitudes toward women and the LGBTQ community deeply ingrained in its culture.

The NYC Department of Investigation issued a report this year on the Police Department’s abysmal failure to deal with sexual crimes against women, concluding that: “Documents as well as current and former [Special Victims Division] staff, sex crime prosecutors, service providers, and victims’ advocates all confirmed to DOI that chronic understaffing and inexperience have ‘diluted” and ‘shortened’ investigations, jeopardized prosecutions, re-traumatized victims, and negatively impacted the reporting of sex crimes, thereby adversely affecting public safety.”

The NYPD is even less effective and more likely to drop or whitewash investigations when the perpetrators come from within their own ranks.

Others have testified to the enormous impact of police misconduct on young people, especially youth of color. Children while in school are also vulnerable to police abuse that—if dealt with at all—is referred to Internal Affairs. Presently there are 5,300 NYPD school safety employees in our schools and not one has to answer to the CCRB. These officers can make warrantless arrests, carry handcuffs, and use physical or deadly force. In an ACLU study in 2017, there were 882 arrests of school children. One in five was age 14 or younger, and 95% of students were Black or Hispanic.

Radical Women believes, as do others participating in the ECRB campaign, that only an elected board that has disciplinary power and works in tandem with an independent Special Prosecutor can effectively improve police accountability.