Written Testimony to the Committee on Public Safety and Committee on Justice System: Police Discipline
New York City Council
Committee on Public Safety and Committee on Justice System
Joint Hearing re: Oversight – Police Discipline
February 7, 2019
Written Testimony of The Bronx Defenders
By Jenn Rolnick Borchetta & Oded Oren
Chairman Richards, Chairman Lancman, and members of the Committees, my name is Jenn Rolnick Borchetta and I am Deputy Director of Impact Litigation at The Bronx Defenders. I am here with my colleague Oded Oren who is a staff attorney in our Criminal Defense Practice.
Police misconduct is a lived reality for many of our clients at The Bronx Defenders. Our clients are pushed and shoved, their faces scraped on walls and on the floors, their arms broken and their heads intentionally banged against cars and walls — even after they are handcuffed. Often, police misconduct is more psychologically scarring than it is physically. Such was the case for a client of ours, who, strolling down the street towards his bus stop, was stopped by two undercover officers — guns brandished — who proceeded to throw him to the ground and later strip search him at the precinct. By the time our client’s case ended — with a dismissal — he had already been enrolled in therapy for months to address the trauma he had suffered from that encounter. We are grateful for the opportunity to testify today about the impact of police misconduct on our clients, their families, and their communities, and to offer our insights on how the City Council can help ensure meaningful accountability. We will speak specifically to the bills calling for a disciplinary matrix report, the repeal of 50-A of the New York Civil Rights Law, the publication of data by the prosecution offices, and police reporting about specific charges related to officer misconduct; we support these bills with modifications.