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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

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