New NYCLU Report: 20 Years Of Data Show The NYPD Cannot Police Itself

Cop Out: Analyzing 20 Years of Records Proving NYPD Impunity
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NEW YORK – Today, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued Cop Out: Analyzing 20 Years of Records Proving NYPD Impunity, the most comprehensive analysis yet released of over 20 years of the NYPD’s handling of misconduct complaints filed with the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the independent agency charged with investigating complaints about police misconduct in New York City.

The NYCLU analyzed 180,700 unique allegations of police misconduct arising from complaints filed with the CCRB since 2000 involving 59,244 separate incidents and 35,435 NYPD officers. That analysis found:

  • The vast majority of police misconduct complaints never result in accountability. Only 4,283 of 180,700 total cases received some type of discipline from the NYPD, of which 1,530 – or 1 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.
  • People of color are three times more likely to be identified as the injured party in a NYPD misconduct complaint than white people. Black people are six times more likely to be identified as the injured party in a complaint than white people. Of complaints where the injured party was identified as younger than 18-years-old, 93% involved children of color.

“The numbers make clear that NYPD oversight and discipline is largely a fiction,” said Christopher Dunn, legal director of the NYCLU. “With revelations that only one percent of complaints result in serious officer discipline, that the NYPD overrides CCRB recommendations in substantiated cases three out of four times, and that misconduct disproportionately affects New Yorkers of color, it is little wonder why the City concealed misconduct records for decades and police unions fought to keep them secret. Now that the secret is out, the NYPD’s monopoly over discipline must end.”

“These numbers put a fine point on what the NYCLU and partners have been saying for decades: police cannot and will not police themselves,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “New Yorkers continue to stand up, speak out, and demand we rethink the role of police. This data shows just how far we have to go. City leaders must not simply take back the reins of NYPD oversight and accountability, but they must also reduce the scope of policing and reinvest in communities.”

In the summer of 2020, the NYCLU obtained a comprehensive database of complaints made by the public to the CCRB. Then, in May of 2021, the NYCLU added updated and more detailed information to the database, which includes 180,700 unique police misconduct complaints, involving 59,244 separate incidents and 35,435 active or former NYPD officers since 2000.

In its recommendations, the NYCLU calls on city lawmakers to take necessary and overdue steps to reduce police misconduct and impunity by ending the era of the NYPD shirking its transparency responsibilities, relinquishing the NYPD stronghold over its own disciplinary processes and outcomes, reducing the scope of policing, and investing in alternative approaches to community safety.

Read the report, and the NYCLU’s recommendations here.

Cop Out: Analyzing 20 Years of Records Proving NYPD Impunity was authored by Research Analyst Jesse Barber and Senior Writer Simon McCormack.

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