Racial Profiling & Bias-Based Policing Investigations Unit FAQ

The below questions are specific to CCRB’s Racial Profiling and Bias-Based Policing Investigations Unit. For questions also related to CCRB’s general investigations, please visit this FAQ page.

1. What is the Racial Profiling and Bias-Based Policing Unit?

The Racial Profiling and Bias Based Policing (“RPBP”) Unit is a unit at the CCRB focused on investigating civilian complaints of profiling/biased policing by uniformed (not civilian) members of the NYPD based on 10 different protected categories: race, national origin/ethnicity, color, religion, age, immigration or citizenship status, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and housing status.

2. What is bias-based policing? What is racial profiling?

Racial profiling occurs when an NYPD officer takes law enforcement action against you (for example: stopping your car or stopping you on the street, an arrest, summons, search, or move-along order) because of your actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or color. Bias-based policing occurs when an NYPD officer takes law enforcement action against you because of your religion, age, immigration or citizenship status, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status.

3. Why hasn’t the RPBP Unit existed before now?

CCRB’s investigative power comes from the New York City Charter, Section 440(c). The City Council passed Local Law 47 (2021), which amended the Charter to clarify that investigating allegations of “racial profiling and bias-based policing” falls under the CCRB’s “abuse of authority” jurisdiction.
Prior to this amendment, all profiling and biased policing complaints received by the CCRB were referred to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB). The New York City Commission on Human Rights also investigated complaints of bias-based profiling by all New York City-based law enforcement officers (not only members of service of the NYPD).

4. Who is protected under the new law?

Everyone in New York City is protected based on their actual or perceived race, national origin, color, ethnicity, religion, age, immigration or citizenship status, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and housing status.
Housing status means the kind of place you live, regardless of whether it is a private building, the shelter system, public housing, or experiencing homelessness.

5. What is the scope of the RPBP Unit?

RPBP investigates whether an NYPD officer’s conduct during an encounter with a civilian was based on one or more of the civilian’s actual or perceived protected traits: race, national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, age, immigration or citizenship status, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status. A civilian who believes an officer has taken law enforcement action against them, or failed to take law enforcement action on their behalf, because of one or more of those protected traits can file a complaint with the CCRB. Civilians should file as soon as possible because CCRB investigations must be completed within 18 months of the encounter.

6. Can I file a profiling / biased policing complaint even if the subject officer(s) did not commit any other FADO misconduct?

Yes. If you believe an NYPD officer discriminated against you because of your race, ethnicity/national origin, color, religion, age, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, or housing status, you can file a complaint and RPBP will investigate it even if the officer did not engage in any other misconduct like excessive force, improper stop or search, or use of discourteous or offensive language.

7. Who is investigating complaints of profiling/bias-based policing?

The RPBP Unit is comprised of attorneys, investigators, and data scientists. They work together to investigate complaints of profiling/bias-based policing.

8. Are investigations confidential?

Investigations are confidential until they are closed. Once closed, investigations are subject to disclosure under the FOIL (Freedom of Information Law), which is a law that allows members of the public to request records from government agencies. You can find more information about FOIL here.

9. What kinds of things can I complain about?

Civilians can complain about any police action (or failure to act) that is based on their membership in a protected category. Below are some examples of profiling/bias-based policing:

  1. A civilian, who wears a turban, is pulled over in his vehicle after doing a rolling stop at a stop sign. Most other drivers, who do not appear to be wearing turbans, are not pulled over by the NYPD when they do a rolling stop at the stop sign.
  2. After school dismissal, NYPD officers tell Black students from a middle school to leave the neighborhood. White students from the same school are allowed to remain in the area.
  3. On a weekend night, two women are standing on the same corner checking their mobile phones. The first, a transgender woman, is stopped by officers, questioned about her activities, and asked for identification. The second, who appears to be cisgender, is not stopped, questioned, or asked for identification.
  4. On a subway car late at night, NYPD officers remove a sleeping man who appears to be homeless and issue him a summons. Two other men who are also sleeping in the subway car, but who do not appear to be homeless, are allowed to remain on the train.
  5. Two officers stop a group of three young Latino men around 2am, ask them if they have any weapons, and pat them down. When they ask why they were stopped, the officers explain that there have been several recent shootings in the area committed by Latino men in their 20s and that the three men should not be walking around so late at night.
  6. A civilian enters a police station to report domestic abuse by his partner, who happens to be a woman. The officer on duty refuses to accept the civilian’s complaint, saying he should “man up.”

10. How do I file a complaint?

You can file a complaint by contacting the CCRB at 1-800-341-2272 (CCRB) or calling 311 and asking for the CCRB. You can also visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/ccrb/complaints/file-complaint.page.

11. What information do I need to have to file a complaint with the CCRB?

We need your narrative story. You do not need to have the name(s) of the officer(s) or their shield numbers. We often get complaints against unidentified officers. In most of these cases, investigators are able to identify the officer using police department records and documents. We may need to interview you a second time and have you view officer photos to make a positive ID.

12. Can I file a complaint anonymously? Can I file a complaint on behalf of someone else?

Yes. Complaints can be filed anonymously, though the RPBP will be able to conduct a better investigation if more information is provided when the complaint is filed.

13. What if I'm not sure if I was profiled?

You should contact the CCRB if you suspect that you’ve been subjected to police misconduct. You can mention that you may have been profiled in your initial contact with CCRB.

14. How much do I need to be involved in the investigation?

After your initial complaint, we will reach out to you to obtain a narrative statement that more fully tells your story. Sometimes we may need to contact you to obtain additional information.

15. What about other complaints related to policing that may not involve profiling?

Any misconduct involving excessive or unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or the use of offensive language by officers of the NYPD should be reported to the CCRB.

16. Do you only investigate NYPD, or are other law enforcement agencies covered?

RPBP only investigates NYPD officers. For other law enforcement agencies covered under the NYC Administrative Code Section 14-151, such as peace officers employed by the City, sheriffs and guards in City facilities, and “special patrolmen” appointed by the NYPD, such as civilian school safety officers, an individual may approach the New York City Commission on Human Rights.