One of the fruits of the 2020 Uprisings in New York City has belatedly arrived: Records of misconduct complaints made by civilians against New York Police Department (NYPD) officers are now available for the public’s review.
On March 4, a database of city investigations into civilian-alleged NYPD officer misconduct, titled NYPD Members of Service Histories, was published online by the New York City Civilian and Complaint Review Board (CCRB).
The records’ release had already been authorized by the repeal of 50-A—a decades-old state law which largely prohibited the disclosure of police personnel records. Governor Andrew Cuomo approved that change, along with other so-called accountability measures, on June 12, amid the historic grassroots demonstrations against police violence in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
However, a legal challenge brought by a law enforcement union resulted in a stay being ordered in September 2020. On March 3, 2021, just a day prior to the publication of the database, the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeal finally lifted the stay and greenlit the records’ release.
“The repeal of New York State Civil Rights Law Section 50-a—one of the most restrictive police secrecy laws in the country—was a landmark moment for New Yorkers,” said CCRB Chair Fred Davie in a statement. “The court’s decision to affirm the repeal of 50-a and vacate the stay is the right one, and I am proud the CCRB has acted quickly to once again provide New Yorkers with greater transparency.”
The database contains records on more than 83,000 NYPD officers, active and inactive, for complaints received on or after January 1, 2000. It can be searched by officer command, rank, substantiated complaints, shield number and name. Incidents can be found found by locating the complaint ID, incident date, type of misconduct (Force, Abuse of Authority, Discourtesy or Offensive Language), allegation, Board disposition, NYPD disposition and NYPD penalty imposed.
Even more information, such as complaint narratives, can be obtained through a request under the Freedom of Information law.
Photograph of a New York Police Department Officer in June 2020, by Anthony Quintano via Flickr/Creative Commons