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Research Approval Policy

This document sets forth the process and standards for the submission, review, and approval of external research proposals involving records created by and/or maintained by the NYPD. These records include arrests, complaints, violations of criminal, moving, or parking codes, domestic incident reports, and other Department records. The NYPD's legal restrictions on data and information sharing are outlined primarily in New York State Civil Rights Law 50-a and 50-b, New York State Criminal Procedure Law 160.50 and 160.55, New York State Family Court Act 784 and 375.1, New York State Executive Law 837(8) and 837(9), and New York City Rules and Regulations 6150.4.

The NYPD research approval process applies to research involving the use of data obtained from databases or case records maintained by the NYPD and/or through interviews, surveys, or observations untaken by the research team. That is, the research is not undertaken by the NYPD or agents operating on their behalf. An agent is defined as an independent researcher that is under contract with the NYPD to conduct a research project.

The purposes of the NYPD research approval process are: 1) to protect the safety of human subjects involved in research; 2) to protect the confidentiality of data; 3) to protect the security of data used in research projects from unauthorized use or release; and 4) to foster research that meets prevailing methodological standards and is relevant to the agency's mission or furthers knowledge in the field of study.

Who May Conduct Research Involving Cases Under NYPD's Purview?

Only qualified researchers may conduct research involving NYPD data. To be considered qualified and therefore eligible to conduct research, the Researcher must be a faculty member at an accredited institution of higher education or hold a research position at a reputable research organization or at a government agency. If found to be in violation of terms and conditions described in this policy document, the NYPD retains the sole discretion to remove the Researcher from a research project at any time and for any reason with no prior notice.

The Researcher must demonstrate a capacity to complete the research project according to prevailing academic and professional standards, particularly if the research involves contact with human subjects. The Researcher and organization must have a demonstrated record of using sensitive data according to commonly accepted standards of research ethics.

For research involving contact with human subjects, all researchers not affiliated with the NYPD must obtain prior approval for the proposed research project from a federally certified Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the university, professional research organization, or government agency. A copy of the signed IRB approval document must be provided to the NYPD at the time the research proposal is submitted for review.

Limitations on Release of Data to Researchers Not Employed by or Acting as Agents of NYPD

Statutory provisions prohibit the release of certain data for research purposes to individuals not employed by, or serving as agents of the NYPD. These data include:

  • Individually identifiable data related to the release of police personnel records and disciplinary records;
  • Individually identifiable data (i.e., personal information that is likely to enable an individual to be identified) on persons named in reports made to the NYPD that have been sealed;
  • Individually identifiable data on persons who are the victim of a sex offense (including addresses);
  • Individually identifiable data pertaining to juveniles;
  • Individually identifiable data related to the conviction or dismissal of a traffic infraction or a violation (e.g., B and C summonses); and
  • Individually identifiable data contained on criminal history/rap sheets.

Instructions for Submitting a Research Proposal for NYPD Review

Prior to submitting a research proposal to the NYPD for review, the researcher must obtain a letter of support from all organizations affected by the project. The NYPD will not review any proposal that involves any case data from an agency other than NYPD unless it is accompanied by a final letter of approval from the agency responsible for those data. If the NYPD requires that certain changes be made to the proposal or additional information provided, those revisions or additions must be completed and approved by the NYPD.

The submission to the NYPD should include the following:

  • Name, title, and affiliation of the researcher(s);
  • Contact information for the researcher(s) including mailing address, phone number, fax number, and e-mail address;
  • Vitae for all persons working on research project;
  • Information on whether the research is supported by federal funds, including a statement of the specific Federal agency funding the project, and if applicable, documentation of any assurance(s) filed or granted;
  • Letter of approval from a certified Institutional Review Board, if required;
  • Letters of approval from all involved organizations (see above);
  • Clear statement of the purpose of the research;
  • Explanation of the relevance of the research to the NYPD mission and expected contribution to the field of study;
  • Thorough and comprehensive literature review;
  • Delineation of the specific research questions to be addressed;
  • Detailed description of the research design;
  • Discussion of sampling approach and selection procedures;
  • Description of kinds of data to be collected;
  • Specification of sources of data and data collection procedures to be used in the research project;
  • Copies of all data collection instruments;
  • Description of the analytic approach to be used;
  • Procedures to protect confidentiality of respondents including a description of any circumstances which would require identifying the respondent;
  • Informed consent procedures for subjects and parent/guardian if subject is under age 18 along with copies of all written informed consent forms (see additional instructions later in this document);
  • A discussion of the risks and benefits of the research to the subjects and any remediation protocols;
  • A data security plan in compliance with the detailed requirements specified in draft legal agreements;
  • Plans for reporting the results to ensure that data are presented only in aggregate form or so as to prevent the identification of any particular individual;
  • Possible impacts on the NYPD and associated operations;
  • Detailed timeline of research activities showing the location and person(s) responsible for completing each task; and
  • A one-page abstract summarizing the proposal.

These materials and any questions should be e-mailed to

Informed Consent Requirements

If the research involves contact with human subjects who are not anonymous, the researcher must obtain their informed written consent to participate in the study. Any "human research" as defined by Section 2441 of Article 24-A of the Public Health Law involving subjects under age 18 also requires the informed written consent of the parent or guardian. In cases where parental rights have been terminated, consent must be obtained from the responsible local department of social services. The consent must inform research subjects of the following:

  • The purpose and nature of the study;
  • The nature and duration of their participation;
  • An overview of kinds of questions they will be asked;
  • How the information will be used;
  • How long the information will be retained and final disposition of information;
  • Who will have access to the information;
  • That all information will be kept confidential, except for circumstances where disclosure is mandated by law such as suicide threat, threat of harm to others, and child abuse (any disclosure circumstances need to be clearly specified on the consent form);
  • That should the researcher have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, this information will be reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment;
  • That their participation is voluntary and they may refuse to answer any question or to participate in follow-up activities, and may withdraw at any time;
  • That their assent or refusal to participate will have no effect on the treatment, services or privileges they will receive;
  • A description of any compensation to the subject, if applicable, including type and amount of compensation and schedule for payment;
  • Information on how to contact the researcher regarding any questions about the research; and
  • Information on how to contact the person responsible for Human Subject Protection for the research project if the subject feels his/her rights have been violated.

A copy of the research project description and signed consent form must be given to the participant and for youth this must also be provided to the parent/guardian.


Only the Researcher and individuals who are directly involved in the collection, processing, analysis, interpretation, or reporting of the subject data and have submitted signed confidentiality agreements (see below) are authorized to access the subject data. The Researcher shall not make any release of subject data listing information regarding individuals, even if the individual identifiers have been removed, unless such release has been authorized in the confidentiality agreement with the NYPD. The Researcher may publish the results, analysis, or other information developed as a result of any research based on subject data made available under the confidentiality agreement with the NYPD only in summary, aggregated, or statistical form so that the identity of individuals contained in the subject data is not revealed.

A completed and signed Research Employee/Volunteer Certification and initials next to each paragraph for each individual involved in the collection, processing, analysis, interpretation, or reporting of the subject data must be executed at the same time the Agreement to Maintain Confidentiality between the NYPD and the Researcher is signed and executed. The Research Employee/Volunteer Certification requires involved parties to affirm that they will maintain the confidentiality of all identifiable information, that they do not have a criminal conviction, and that they have not been the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment. If the researcher or support staff has a criminal conviction or indicated child abuse or maltreatment report, the NYPD's Legal Bureau will review these facts and the nature of the access being requested for this person's role in the research project in order to make a final determination as to whether the person will be permitted to work on the project.