The Investigative Process
The CCRB handles four types of complaints: excessive force,
abuse of authority, discourtesy, and offensive language.
You can file a complaint by writing us, dialing
311 (outside NYC dial 212-NEW-YORK),
coming to our office at 40
Rector Street, through our online complaint form or visiting
any NYPD precinct. Within 24 hours of being assigned to the
complaint, a CCRB investigator will attempt to contact you.
The investigator who contacts you will normally remain the
investigator of your complaint during the course of the entire
investigation. An investigation generally progresses as follows:
In order to get the most accurate and thorough description
of the events on record, the investigator will need to interview
you in person. This generally happens at the CCRB offices
at 40 Rector Street, but in exceptional cases investigators
can travel to you. When you come to make your statement, be
sure you have all information pertaining to the complaint,
including the exact time, date, and location of the incident,
the names of the police officers if you have them, their descriptions,
and any paperwork or photographs related to the event. Having
the names and phone numbers of any witnesses can make a crucial
difference in the investigation.
After speaking to you, the investigator will contact
witnesses, starting with those whose names you can provide.
Investigators regularly visit the sites of incidents in order
to locate other possible witnesses (storekeepers, neighborhood
residents) who might be able to provide information helpful
to a successful investigation. Sometimes after information
is uncovered in the course of the investigation, you or other
witnesses may need to be interviewed a second time.
The CCRB has subpoena power, which means that we are able
to obtain records from commercial establishments and medical
facilities (your permission is required if we are to view
your medical records). We can also obtain all relevant documentary
evidence from the police department, some of it immediately
through on-site databases and some of it through document
requests. While sometimes obtaining these documents takes
time, they provide critical insight into the circumstances
surrounding the complaint.
Police Officer Interviews
Investigators are generally required to interview witness
and subject officers as soon as possible after identifying
them and interviewing the complainant and/or alleged victim(s).
We frequently re-interview police officers upon obtaining
new information through witness interviews and review of documentary
When the investigation is complete, it is forwarded to the
board. A panel of three members of the board will read the
case, review all of the evidence, and vote on the disposition
of every allegation raised by the complaint. If any allegations
are substantiated, the case will be forwarded to the police
commissioner, who has the final say in disciplinary matters.
Statute of Limitations
Under New York State Civil Service Law, officers who are subjects
of substantiated CCRB investigations must be disciplined or
served with disciplinary charges within 18 months of the date
of the incident. The only exception to the statute of limitations
occurs when the alleged misconduct committed by the officer
constitutes a crime. Since the statute of limitations is measured
from the date the incident took place, not the date the CCRB
begins its investigation, it is important that you file a
complaint with us as soon as possible after the incident.
Substantiated, exonerated, or unfounded dispositions are considered "findings on the merits" because they reflect the CCRB's decision on the validity of the complaint. The rate at which the board makes findings on the merits is the clearest quantitative measure of the effectiveness of investigations carried out by the CCRB staff.
Substantiated: There is sufficient credible
evidence to believe that the subject officer committed
the act charged in the allegation and committed misconduct.
The board can recommend to the police commissioner appropriate
Exonerated: The subject officer was found
to have committed the act alleged, but the subject officer's
actions were determined to be lawful and proper.
Unfounded: There is sufficient credible
evidence to believe that the subject officer did not commit
the alleged act of misconduct.
Unsubstantiated outcomes, cases where the police officer was never identified, and miscellaneous closures do not constitute findings on the merits, since the allegations remain unresolved.
Unsubstantiated: The weight of the available evidence is insufficient to substantiate, exonerate or unfound the allegation.
Officer(s) unidentified: The agency was
unable to identify the subject(s) of the alleged misconduct.
Miscellaneous: The subject of the allegation
is no longer a member of the New York City Police Department.