The New York State Police (NYSP) is the second largest police force in New York State, with over 4,700 uniformed police officers.1 The NYSP’s jurisdiction covers the entire state and is divided into 11 Troops and 191 stations. NYSP officers patrol New York’s highway system, but they also respond to 911 calls and conduct criminal investigations.
Until now, very little was known about how the department polices roadways across the state or what discipline officers receive when they abuse New Yorkers.
The NYCLU obtained tens of thousands of records about police misconduct investigations, disciplinary records, and use-of-force incidents from the NYSP after we submitted a Freedom of Information Law request. The records show that officers were investigated for nearly twenty thousand reported acts of misconduct and recorded over five thousand use-of-force incidents from 2000 to 2020.
An NYCLU analysis of the records makes clear that the NYSP does not usually hold officers accountable for misconduct. The department’s officers also engage in regular uses of force, including the use of tasers and pepper spray, often during non-criminal enforcement actions like traffic stops and during mental health crises.
The NYSP investigates its own misconduct allegations. As is often the case when departments are tasked with policing themselves, the NYSP verified misconduct allegations at very low rates when an officer was accused of misconduct involving a civilian, like unlawful searches, use-of -force, or discrimination. And even when misconduct was substantiated, only a fraction of verified misconduct investigations triggered serious disciplinary action. Most officers received a slap on the wrist.
Below are links to a detailed breakdown and analysis of the department’s misconduct and discipline data, as well as an analysis of NYSP officers’ use-of-force records. Finally, there are searchable databases containing the misconduct and disciplinary history of individual NYSP officers as well as officers’ use-of-force histories.