Civilian Complaint Review Board
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Frequently Asked Questions

 
  1. Is the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) a part of the New York City Police Department (NYPD)?
  2.  What types of misconduct does the CCRB investigate?
  3.  Who conducts the investigations?
  4.  Why do I need to come to your office for an interview when I already told you what happened over the phone? 
  5.  What happens after I file a complaint?
  6.  Does the CCRB discipline officers?
  7.  Why isn’t my statement about what happened enough for the CCRB to determine that the officer committed misconduct? 
  8.  Do complaints remain on an officer’s record?
  9.  What if the police officer retaliates against me for filing a complaint?
  10.  If I am in jail, do I have the right to file a complaint?
  11.  Can I file a complaint without the officer’s name and badge number? 
  12. How long does it take to complete a full investigation?
  13.  Can I meet with the officer to discuss what happened?
  14.  What is the difference between the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) and the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB)?
  15.  Can you help me with a summons or arrest?
  16. What is the CCRB’s budget?
  17.  How many complaints are filed each year?
  18.  How many complaints allege the use of force?
  19.  What percentage of cases are substantiated?
  20.  How many officers have been disciplined as a result of CCRB investigations?
1. Q. Is the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) a part of the New York City Police Department?
   
  A. No, the CCRB is not. The CCRB is an impartial agency that has been independent of the police department since 1993.

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2. Q. What types of misconduct does the CCRB investigate?
   
  A. The CCRB investigates complaints about four types of misconduct by sworn officers of the NYPD: force that is excessive or unnecessary; abuse of authority; discourtesy; and offensive language.The CCRB does not investigate the actions of civilian employees of the NYPD such as school safety officers or crossing guards.

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3. Q. Who conducts the investigations?
   
 

A. Civilian staff members conduct investigations. New investigator training includes: agency jurisdiction and rules, effective interviewing techniques, methods of evidence gathering, patrol guide mandates, police department operations and structure, and the legal principles governing use of force, stops, frisks, and searches. Investigators also complete a two-day training course at the Police Academy, ride-along on a police patrol, and receive instruction on firearms and tactics at the NYPD outdoor firing range.

Investigators work under the direction of managers who have at least 8 years of investigative experience gained through prior employment in agencies such as the NYC Department of Investigations, the NYC Transit Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the CCRB.

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4. Q. Why do I need to come to your office for an interview when I already told you what happened over the phone?
   
  A. In order to investigate fully and fairly, we need to get many more details than are ever included in a person’s initial complaint.

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5. Q. What happens after I file a complaint?
   
 

A. To learn what happens after you file a complaint, read a detailed description of our investigations and the possible outcomes of your complaint.

Learn about investigations
Learn about outcomes 

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6. Q. Does the CCRB discipline officers?
   
  A. No. When we substantiate a complaint, we refer the case, with a disciplinary recommendation, to the police commissioner. Only the police commissioner has the authority to decide the level of discipline and impose punishment on an officer.

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7. Q. Why isn’t my statement about what happened enough for the CCRB to determine that the officer committed misconduct?
   
 

A. We are required by law to conduct investigations that are thorough and fair. This means we must gather all possible evidence and information pertaining to the incident that prompted your complaint, not just your statement. This entails interviewing the subject officer, interviewing people who may have witnessed the incident, looking at video when it exists, examining medical records when there are injuries, and much more.

There are many cases where an officer’s actions prompt a complaint, yet those actions are within the law and within police guidelines. This emerges when we investigate fully and in such a case, the officer will be exonerated.

Other times, a complaint is substantiated, based upon the weight of credible evidence that supports your statement. Substantiated cases are referred to the police department for discipline, sometimes even a trial. Neither would be possible if all we had was your statement.

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8. Q. Do complaints remain on an officer’s record?
   
 

A. Yes. All complaints, regardless of the outcome, remain on an officer’s CCRB history which is part of their personnel record at the police department.

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9. Q. What if the police officer retaliates against me for filing a complaint?
   
  A. Incidents of retaliation are extremely rare. You should notify us immediately if you are threatened or retaliated against after filing a complaint.

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10. Q. If I am in jail, do I have the right to file a complaint?
   
  A. Yes, you have that right; it doesn’t matter whether or not you are currently incarcerated. Our investigators routinely visit city jails in order to interview complainants.

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11. Q. Can I file a complaint without the officer’s name and badge number?
   
  A. Yes. We often get complaints against unidentified officers. In about 95% of these cases our investigators are able to identify the officer using police department records and documents. In such a case, we will need to interview you a second time and have you view officer photos to make a positive ID.

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12. Q. How long does it take to complete a full investigation?
   
  A. Every case is different.  Sometimes an investigation can be done quickly, in a matter of a few months.  Some investigations take longer, on average 10 months. It depends on many things, such as the availability of witnesses and the complexity of the incident, including the number of alleged victims and subject officers.

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13. Q. Can I meet with the officer to discuss what happened?
   
  A. Yes. If your case is eligible for CCRB's mediation program, you may have the chance to have a confidential discussion with the officer about the incident, with the assistance of a neutral mediator.

Learn more about CCRB mediation

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14. Q. What is the difference between the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) and the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB)?
   
 

A. The IAB is a unit within the police department, staffed by police officers. The CCRB is a completely separate agency from the police department. The CCRB is staffed by civilians and has a mandate to investigate four types of police misconduct: excessive or unnecessary force; abuse of authority, discourtesy, and offensive language.

The IAB functions as the police department’s internal watchdog, to prevent, uncover, and investigate corruption, perjury and off-duty criminal conduct. When the IAB receives a complaint that falls within the CCRB’s jurisdiction, it refers the case to us. Likewise, when the CCRB gets a complaint that is outside its jurisdiction, it refers that to the IAB. For example, if you file a complaint that an officer punched you and cursed at you during an arrest, and then stole your money, we would investigate the force and discourtesy allegations, but the alleged theft of money would be referred to the IAB.

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15. Q. Can the CCRB help me with a summons or arrest?
   
  A. No, we do not have the jurisdiction. A summons or an arrest can only be resolved in court. Please call 311 for more information or contact an attorney.

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16. Q. What is the CCRB’s budget?
   
  A. The Fiscal Year 2015 budget is $12.75 million. $9.9 mil for staff, with an authorized headcount of 167. $2.9 mil for non-personnel services including rent and utilities.
View budget details on OMB web site 

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17. Q. How many complaints are filed each year?
   
  A. In 2013, the CCRB received 5,410 complaints within its jurisdiction.

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18. Q. How many complaints allege the use of force?
   
  A. In 2013, 53% of all complaints contained one or more allegations of improper force.

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19. Q. What percentage of cases are substantiated?
   
  A. In 2013, the CCRB completed 2,082 full investigations and substantiated at least one allegation in 300 complaints or 14.4%.

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20. Q. How many officers have been disciplined as a result of CCRB investigations?
   
  A. In 2013, the police commissioner disciplined 152 officers, a disciplinary action rate on substantiated CCRB complaints of 60%.

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