After you have filed a complaint, one of our investigative teams will get the case and assign an investigator, who will attempt to contact you within 48 hours of getting the assignment. This investigator will usually handle your complaint throughout the entire investigation.
Here’s how an investigation generally progresses:
In order to get the most accurate and thorough description of the events and alleged misconduct that led to your complaint, the investigator will need to interview you in person. The CCRB often conducts in-person interviews at its office, located at 100 Church St., in Manhattan. If need be, interviews are also conducted at locations in all the boroughs. Particularly in cases of hardship, the investigator will travel to you.
Your in-person statement is vital and will be the foundation of the investigation. When you meet with the investigator, try to bring as much information as possible relating to the complaint, including the time, date, and location of the incident, the badge numbers and names of the police officers involved if you have them, physical descriptions of the officers and any relevant paperwork, photographs, or video. Providing names and contact information for witnesses is also important.
To ensure that your case can be administratively prosecuted if the board substantiates the allegations, the investigator will ask you to sign a verification form confirming that what you have told us is truthful and accurate.
Depending upon the nature of your complaint, the investigator may offer you the opportunity for mediation, instead of a full investigation.
Learn more about mediation
After speaking with you, the investigator will contact witnesses, starting with those whose names you can provide. Investigators often visit locations where incidents occurred to find video from surveillance cameras or to find other people, such as store owners or employees and neighborhood residents, who may be able to provide information or eyewitness accounts. If additional information is uncovered, the investigator might need to interview you a second time.
The CCRB has subpoena power, which enables us to obtain records from commercial establishments and medical facilities, though we cannot view your medical records without your permission. We also obtain necessary documents from the police department, some of it immediately through onsite databases. Because the CCRB has access to police department records, such as roll calls, command logs, vehicle assignments, and stop and frisk forms, we can usually identify officers, even if you cannot give us a name or badge number.
Police Officer Interviews
Investigators usually interview police officers who are the subject of a complaint or who possibly witnessed an incident as soon as possible after they have been identified and the complainant and/or alleged victim has given an in-person statement. Under the NYPD’s Patrol Guide, police officers must appear at the CCRB to be interviewed and must answer investigators’ questions truthfully and fully.
Outcome of the Investigation
When the investigation is finished, the entire case file, along with a report prepared by the investigator, is given to the board. A panel of three board members reads the case and votes on every allegation in the complaint and based on the preponderance of evidence, decides whether there was misconduct or not. If the board substantiates an allegation, the case is promptly forwarded to the police commissioner, who has the final say concerning discipline. In the most serious cases, where the board has recommended that administrative charges be brought against an officer, an attorney with the CCRB's Administrative Prosecution Unit (APU) will prosecute the officer. The board may also decide that the allegations are unfounded, exonerated, or unsubstantiated.
Learn more about the board
Learn more about possible outcomes
Learn about the APU and police discipline
Notification to You
After the board votes and makes findings on the allegations in your complaint, the CCRB will promptly notify you of the board’s action by letter. At the same time, the CCRB will also notify the police officer who was the subject of your complaint.
Under the New York State Civil Service Law, when police officers are the subjects of substantiated allegations of misconduct, they must be served with disciplinary charges within 18 months of the date of incident, in most circumstances. This means it is important that you file a complaint as soon as possible, because the clock starts ticking from the date of the incident, not the date that the CCRB begins its investigation.