June 9 (UPI) — Complaints filed against New York City police show black youth have been arrested, handcuffed and held at gunpoint for engaging in normal activities such as playing with friends or shaking hands, a newly released watchdog report found.
In its 55-page report released on Monday, the Civilian Complaint Review Board said it has analyzed 112 fully investigated complaints filed between Jan. 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, against the police over situations involving New Yorkers between the ages of 10 and 18, and discovered various examples of “negative encounters,” particularly involving boys of color.
“The cases include instances when young teens or pre-teens of color were handcuffed, arrested or held at gunpoint while participating in age-appropriate activities, such as running, playing with friends, high-fiving, sitting on a stoop or carrying a backpack,” the report said. “Young New Yorkers should be able to participate in such activities without fear of negative encounters.”
According to the report, an 8-year-old black male was handcuffed and detained for playing with a stick, and his mother complained, “her son was not treated properly and that his dreams of being a police officer were over.”
In another encounter, an 11-year-old black male was frisked by an officer after having shaken the hand of an adult he knew.
And in another, an 11-year-old black male and a 13-year-old black female playing basketball had a weapon drawn on them for running to their guardian while being approached by police officers.
“Sadly, after years of witnessing news about police misconduct and possibly experiencing it themselves, even the youngest among us have an awareness of the tension that too often exists between police and civilians,” said CCRB Chair Fred Davie in a statement. “As young New Yorkers lead the way in calling for change in our city following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others, it’s time for the NYPD to reconsider how officers police our youth, address disparities in law enforcement and commit to swift discipline when officers engage in misconduct.”
Of the 112 complaints investigated, 42 percent were unsubstantiated, 32 percent were substantiated, 13 percent exonerated and 10 percent were closed as unfounded with the reminders either being unable to identify the police involved or the complaint was found to have been filed concerning an adult.
During the period in question, the report said there were more than 15,000 interventions by police with children ages 10-18. Among them, 88 percent of the youth were either black or Hispanic and only 6 percent were white, the report said.
Among recommendations for the NYPD, the CCRB said it should take into account the report’s findings when finalizing its new youth initiative, train all police officers on the difference between policing adults and youth and take the age of the youth victim into consideration when disciplining officers for misconduct.
In a statement, the NYPD said Commissioner Dermot Shea has accepted the CCRB’s report and recommendations.
“A top priority Commissioner Shea has set for the NYPD is to reimagine doing all we can to protect and serve New York City’s kids,” the NYPD said. “After careful review, we accept each of the CCRB’s thoughtful and constructive recommendations — some of which are already in the process of being implemented and all of which will strengthen our new youth strategy.”
In the report, the CCRB said it is aware that the NYPD “believes it is working hard to protect youth” in New York City.
The report comes amid fraying relations between much of the U.S. public and the police as protests nationwide have erupted over the May 25 police-involved killing of Floyd, which followed Taylor’s March 13 police-involved shooting death.