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A Day In The Life

Holding the NYPD Responsible in the Cop Accountability Project

When those hired to protect and serve commit egregious acts against the communities we serve, our Cop Accountability Project (CAP) holds the NYPD responsible.

CAP’s recent work was particularly invaluable to our city’s dissenters last year. During the summer of 2020, it launched a complaint clinic to aid falsely arrested protestors. “Many of the protesters had the potential to become Legal Aid clients at some point,” Jennvine Wong, CAP Staff Attorney, says.

As the largest nonprofit public defender in NYC we’re going to see the most amount of police misconduct, and we can help our clients on a systemic level in addition to the individual cases.

Jennvine and her colleagues are in a unique position to protect clients and empower them to hold police accountable. CAP compiles information on misconduct histories of officers that may testify against their clients and they help colleagues use that information to get some modicum of accountability. They assist clients with formal complaints fillings with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which now can include instances of racial targeting and sexual abuse–previously outside the Board’s jurisdiction. Being able to help clients file these complaints ensures that their outstanding criminal cases are not jeopardized. “As the largest nonprofit public defender in NYC we’re going to see the most amount of police misconduct, and we can help our clients on a systemic level in addition to the individual cases.”

For systemic change, CAP’s advocacy in collaboration with local activists and grassroots organizers is critical. This collective and unrelenting opposition to unfair laws helped repeal 50a last June. Before then, police disciplinary records were off-limits to the public, a major obstacle in achieving police transparency. Now, these misconduct records are publicly disclosed, increasing systemic accountability. “It’s about moving the Overton Window and to push people to think about what’s possible,” she says.

Learn more about Jennvine’s important work below.

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