New York State Police - Misconduct and Discipline Data

The NYCLU analyzed over 18,000 records detailing the New York State Police’s misconduct investigations and disciplinary outcomes from 2000 to 2020. The investigations include misconduct related to civilian-police interactions, like unlawful searches, and personnel violations that are internal to the department, like insubordination. Each “investigation” refers to an individual act of alleged misconduct, meaning multiple investigations may stem from a single “incident” where misconduct occurred. The analysis revealed the following:

  • Only 7 percent of the nearly 2,300 misconduct investigations on use-of-force incidents were “founded” by the NYSP’s internal investigations division, meaning it determined misconduct occurred.
  • Only 5 percent of the nearly 500 investigations that referenced racial or religious discrimination were founded.
  • Of 18,233 total alleged acts of misconduct, nearly 7,500 were founded. In an additional 4,300 investigations, the NYSP found insufficient evidence to determine whether alleged misconduct occurred.
  • Investigations of alleged misconduct that appear to involve civilians were founded at significantly lower rates than investigations of internal violations of department policy.
  • Over half of the officers named in founded misconduct investigations were given no more than a slap on the wrist. Some 29 percent were given a more serious penalty like loss of vacation days or suspension without pay. Ten percent were placed on probation, two percent were terminated, and five percent did not receive any discipline.
  • Records include 3,656 individual officers named in at least one founded misconduct investigation, 273 officers named in five or more investigations, and 50 officers named in 10 or more investigations.
  • The investigation histories of the 273 officers who were named in five or more founded investigations account for nearly 28 percent of all founded investigations.


Background on NYSP Discipline Process

The NYSP’s entire disciplinary investigative process is internal. This means that the department effectively gets to police itself. No outside entity is responsible for deciding if misconduct took place and, if so, what discipline an officer should face. All of these determinations are made by authorities internal to the NYPSP. As we have seen time after time in countless police departments across the country, when police are asked to police themselves, officers are rarely held accountable for misconduct. The NYSP is no exception.

Below are further details on the investigative process.

The Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) is a division of the NYSP that investigates allegations of misconduct by NYSP employees and decides whether misconduct occurred.1 Depending on the severity of the alleged misconduct, investigations may be conducted by a designee of the officer’s troop/division commander or by the PSB themselves. Misconduct investigations are determined to be “founded” when “the facts substantiate the specific allegation(s) made or other misconduct,” “unsubstantiated” when “insufficient facts exist to either prove or disprove the allegation(s) made, and “unfounded” in a case when “the facts [that] substantiate the allegation(s) made are false.” Investigations can also be “closed by investigation,” which means they are dismissed by the NYSP.

If an investigation is deemed to be founded, the troop Commander or the First Deputy Superintendent of the NYSP determines the disciplinary penalty. If administrative charges are warranted, an administrative hearing is conducted where a panel of three NYSP members submits investigation findings and determines the disciplinary penalty.

The misconduct records that the NYCLU received include summaries of misconduct investigations conducted by the PSB between 2000 and 2020 and the disciplinary penalties that were imposed in founded cases. Each summary is limited to a single phrase describing the alleged misconduct and the discipline imposed, respectively.  

Analysis of Misconduct Investigations and Disciplinary Records

Investigation Findings

The records include information about 18,233 officer misconduct investigations that occurred between 2000 and 2020. Of the 18,233 investigations, 41 percent (7,476) were founded, 23 percent (4,282) were unsubstantiated, meaning that the PSB did not have enough evidence to determine if the act constituted a policy violation, 23 percent (4,167) were unfounded, and 12 percent (2,170) were “closed by investigation.”2

Findings of Misconduct Investigations

Misconduct Allegations Involving Civilians

Investigations of alleged misconduct that appear to be against civilians were founded at very low rates.3 For example:

  • Seven percent of the nearly 2,300 misconduct investigations that referenced an officer’s use-of-force against a civilian were founded. 
  • Five percent of the roughly 500 investigations referencing racial or religious discrimination were founded. 


Officers found to have committed misconduct rarely received serious discipline. Of the 7,476 founded investigations, five percent of officers received no discipline, 52 percent received a slap on the wrist (reprimand, censure, or counseling), 16 percent lost vacation days, 13 percent were suspended without pay, 10 percent were placed on probation, one percent received a reduction in rank, two percent were terminated, and one percent received some other type of discipline.4

Founded Investigations by Type of Discipline

About the Data

The NYCLU requested much more data than the NYSP turned over. We continue to seek the full range of information that we originally sought which would allow us to gain a better understanding of the way NYSP officers police our streets.

The records the NYSP turned over leave much to be desired. They are limited to several key pieces of information for each misconduct investigation and use-of-force incident, including the names of the officers who were involved in use-of-force incidents and the officers who were the subject of a “founded” misconduct investigation. However, the NYSP refuses to disclose the names of officers who were the subject of a misconduct investigation that was not founded by their investigations bureau. The NYCLU is suing the NYSP for the remaining names and the individual records themselves, which are being illegally withheld from the public.

The records that are a part of this analysis are the product of the NYSP’s internal records, so use-of-force incidents or acts of officer misconduct that are not reported to the NYSP or for whatever reason were not maintained by the NYSP will not be captured in the records.

Download Data


Many of the 18,233 investigations share a case number with other investigations, suggesting they arose from the same incidents. There are 13,233 unique case numbers (“incidents”) in the dataset. The NYCLU analyzed individual investigations (not the incidents) because it is common for the investigative outcomes of multiple allegations associated with the same incident to be different from one another, i.e., one was founded while the other was not, or even include multiple officers.

If multiple forms of discipline were imposed in a single investigation, which occurred in 14 percent of founded investigations, only the most severe form of discipline was summarized in the findings. For the purposes of analysis, here is a list of discipline considered from the least severe to the most: counseled, censured/reprimanded, loss of vacation days, suspension without pay, probation, reduction of rank, and termination. Disciplinary action such as “transferred” and “other” were treated as incidental when combined with other types of discipline. In 464 cases the disciplinary outcome reads “resigned” or “retired,” which was also treated as incidental to the discipline imposed, though in some cases no other disciplinary action existed.

The year that the investigation took place was extracted from the investigation case number, however it is unclear whether the year reflects the date the investigation started or ended, or if it reflects some other date.

Last Updated: 8-14-23 


This analysis was performed by Jesse Barber, edited by Simon McCormack with design and layout by Pooj Padmaraj.


2. 138 records had a missing finding value or a value other than the four main categories.
3. The records include a description of the alleged misconduct in extremely broad terms, for example, “Unprofessional Conduct,” “Excessive Force,” or “Improper Police Action.” This limited the NYCLU’s ability to determine the nature of the alleged misconduct – i.e., whether it occurred during a civilian-officer incident or whether it was a personnel violation internal to the department. In the absence of more descriptive records, the NYCLU focused its analysis on key misconduct categories that likely involved civilians or were otherwise noteworthy, though it is likely that many more investigations involved civilian contact.
4. If multiple types of discipline were imposed in a single investigation, only the most severe discipline was considered for the purposed of this analysis. Many investigations, even those naming two distinct officers, may share a case number with other investigations, meaning that they occurred during the same “incident.”

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