internal monitoring. While civilian complaints are voluntary, the Patrol Guide requires members of the service to report certain types of misconduct, including corruption, unnecessary use of force, abuse of authority, misuse of a firearm, false statements, and failure to properly perform patrol or other assignments.[12] Failure to report such offenses is itself a disciplinary violation, although enforcement of the obligation appears lax.

Minor offenses and infractions are commonly addressed at the precinct level through Command Discipline. The Patrol Guide, which governs the conduct of all NYPD officers, defines Command Discipline as a “[n]on-judicial punishment available to a commanding/executive officer to correct deficiencies and maintain discipline within the command.”[13] The offenses subject to Command Discipline are enumerated in Schedules A and B of the Patrol Guide, and include loss of Department property, loss of a shield, failure to keep proper records, and reporting to duty with improper uniform or equipment.[14] Command Discipline is intended to address such misconduct without the need for a burdensome investigative and disciplinary process.[15] Unlike other disciplinary penalties, Command Discipline does not require review and approval by the Commissioner. Commanding officers are empowered to investigate offenses and penalize officers, and their determinations are final.[16] Penalties for Schedule A and B violations range from a warning to the loss of 10 vacation days, depending on the severity of the offense.[17]

More serious offenses or misconduct are addressed through a formal disciplinary process. That process typically proceeds in five phases: (1) complaint intake; (2) investigation; (3) prosecution and penalty recommendation; (4) adjudication; and (5) First Deputy Commissioner and Police Commissioner review. Penalties for more serious offenses include suspension without pay, loss of vacation days (up to 30 per offense charged), and termination from the Department. In cases where criminal conduct is alleged, the NYPD also refers the complaint to the appropriate prosecutor.

B.             Complaint Intake

A complaint against an NYPD officer is typically lodged through either IAB or CCRB. IAB receives the majority of complaints. A complaint can be made in person at IAB’s 24-hour command center, by phone, through an anonymous tip line, or in writing by letter or email. 3‑1‑1 or 9-1-1 calls involving a complaint about an officer are also referred to IAB, as are complaints received at local precincts. In 2018, IAB logged more than 51,000 complaints, a 1.17% decrease from 2017.

[12] Patrol Guide § 207-21.

[13] Patrol Guide § 206-02.

[14] Patrol Guide § 206-03.

[15] See Patrol Guide, § 206-02.

[16] See Patrol Guide, § 206-02. In a small number of cases involving more serious misconduct, where DAO has determined that Command Discipline is “non-discretionary,” the commanding officer must first consult with DAO before departing from the recommended penalty. After such consultation, the commanding officer retains the ultimate discretion over the appropriate penalty to impose, if any.

[17] Patrol Guide § 206-04.