In the summer of 2020, we obtained a comprehensive database of complaints made by the public to the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the independent agency charged with investigating complaints about NYPD misconduct. Then in May of 2021, the NYCLU added updated and more detailed information to the database, which includes 180,700 unique police misconduct complaints since 2000, involving 59,244 separate incidents and 35,435 active or former NYPD officers.1
The analysis of the database in this report focuses on the time period beginning in 2000 – when the CCRB started recording several key pieces of information, including the race of the injured party identified in the complaints.2
The vast majority of police misconduct complaints never result in accountability.
Of the 180,700 complaints investigated by the CCRB since 2000, only 4,283 of 180,700 total cases received some type of discipline from the NYPD, of which 1,530 – or one percent of all cases – received discipline considered serious, which includes forfeiting vacation days, suspension, probation, or termination.
- In 74 percent of substantiated complaints with CCRB discipline recommendations, the NYPD overrode those recommendations by imposing a lesser grade of discipline or imposing no discipline. No discipline was imposed in 67 percent of total substantiated complaints.
- Only three percent of force complaints and complaints involving a firearm investigated by the CCRB were substantiated.
- Black officers were 33 percent more likely to receive serious discipline than white officers.
Black and Brown people – especially children – are far more likely to be identified as the injured party in CCRB complaints than white people.
- People of color are 3x more likely to be identified as the injured party in a police misconduct complaint than white people.
- Black people are 6x more likely to be identified as the injured party in a complaint than white people.
- While white people account for 32% of the New York City population, they represent only 13% of those identified as injured parties in CCRB complaints.
- Of complaints where the injured party was identified as younger than 18 years old, 93% involved children of color.
The precincts with the most complaints include neighborhoods like East New York, Highbridge, Brownsville, Mount Hope, Mott Haven, East Flatbush, and Bedford-Stuyvesant – all predominantly Black and Brown communities.
- The NYPD must proactively provide New Yorkers with more detailed information on police discipline. The repeal of Section 50-a removed the central obstacle that prevented public access to police misconduct records, but other barriers remain in place.
- The NYPD’s monopoly over discipline must come to an end. Even with the CCRB’s ability to independently investigate and prosecute misconduct charges, it operates within a system that is entirely under the NYPD’s control.
- The Mayor and City Council must reduce the scope of policing and invest in alternative approaches to community safety. The NYPD’s refusal to discipline officers who engage in misconduct further supports reducing the scope of policing and moving responsibilities to other agencies where misconduct is less likely to occur and more likely to be disciplined.
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1. The use of “complaint” in this report refers to each discrete act of misconduct investigated by the CCRB, or what the CCRB calls "allegations."
2. A portion of complaints with missing age and race of identified injured parties were excluded when calculating statistics.
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