NEW YORK (WABC) -- Heralding a "major, unprecedented step" toward holding errant police officers accountable the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the New York Police Department on Thursday signed a memorandum pledging to follow a new discipline matrix that officials said could become a model for the nation.
READ THE DISCIPLINE MATRIX
The new guidelines are the product of a nearly two-year process and are meant to streamline and standardize discipline in the nation's largest police force that, until now, had been left largely to the whim of the police commissioner.
While the police commissioner remains the final arbiter CCRB chairman Fred Davie said the matrix represents a "major, unprecedented step in the right direction" and a "significant breakthrough."
"I think the closer we can get to the CCRB's decisions being final the better we'd feel," Davie said. "I think we have come as far as we can."
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the signing of the guidelines during his daily press conference.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the guidelines will help the department build trust with members of the public who view police discipline as opaque.
"Ultimately everything has to drive in my view toward building trust. I believe that can happen with me as final arbiter," Shea said.
The new guidelines call for harsher penalties for violations involving excessive force, making false statements or profiling. They also give the CCRB greater access to officer records, including employment history.
"The goal of this memorandum of understanding and the discipline matrix is to achieve consistent and fair discipline recommendations," the memo said.
The signing took place at St. Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan, a neutral site equidistant to the NYPD and CCRB. Davie and Shea noted the building's place in history as newly inaugurated President George Washington's first stop and, more recently, as a place of refuge for police officers and firefighters working the pile on 9/11.
"I requested that we do it in what can be seen as a neutral place and I thought no better symbol than this place," Davie said.
Just last week, the city outlined new steps toward community involvement in selecting precinct commanders.
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Mayor announces NYPD to enact new discipline matrix for officers, could be national model