Civilian Complaint Procedures

The NYCLU was instrumental in the 1992 creation of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the independent agency charged with investigating complaints of police misconduct. Eighteen years later, however, there is ample evidence that New York City continues to have a serious problem with police misconduct. The number of police-misconduct complaints filed with the CCRB jumped 80 percent between 2000 and 2006 – from 4,251 complaints filed in 2000, to 7,669 complaints filed in 2006. In 2008, the CCRB received 7,405 complaints, which was slightly less than the two preceeding years, but remained 74 percent higher than in 2000. These complaints typically allege serious acts of police misconduct. Historically, half of all complaints filed with the CCRB charge that a police officer used excessive force. Between 2002 and 2006, excessive-force complaints increased a full 77 percent – a rate of increase that exceeds by 11 percent the rise in total complaints filed. Even as complaints of police misconduct have increased sharply, the CCRB has been closing more than half of all complaints without an investigation. And of those complaints the CCRB has substantiated (approximately 5 percent – well below national averages), the police department has been rejecting the CCRB’s findings and recommendations with great frequency. When discipline is imposed, it is often strikingly lenient in light of the severity of the misconduct documented by the CCRB.

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