CCRB is responsible for investigating complaints made by members of the public against officers involving allegations of use of force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, and offensive language (known as “FADO”). Like IAB, CCRB maintains a 24-hour hotline and accepts written complaints directly and through police precincts. CCRB confirms receipt of a complaint within seven days. In 2018, CCRB received 4,736 complaints, a 5% increase from 2017.

In addition to IAB and CCRB, the OIG-NYPD receives complaints about officers, which it usually refers to IAB or CCRB. The public also may lodge complaints in person at any precinct.

C.             Investigation

A complaint received by IAB is initially referred to one of four places: (1) the Chief of Department, who may refer it to a local command; (2) IAB itself; (3) the NYPD’s Force Investigation Division (“FID”); or (4) CCRB.

1.              IAB

IAB investigates the majority of complaints alleging serious misconduct brought against officers. It employs a staff of approximately 350 sergeants and detectives, who review complaints, interview witnesses, gather evidence, and assess the allegations. At the conclusion of its investigation, IAB designates an allegation as substantiated, partially substantiated, unsubstantiated, or unfounded. An allegation is designated “unfounded” if IAB determines that it did not occur and “unsubstantiated” if the burden of proof is not met based on the evidence obtained.[18] To substantiate a complaint, IAB must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the conduct described in the complaint occurred. IAB can also exonerate an officer if it finds that the conduct occurred, but was proper.

2.              Force Investigation Division

Operating under the supervision of the First Deputy Commissioner, FID focuses on police shootings and civilian deaths in custody. It was formed in July 2015, following the death of Eric Garner, in an effort to expedite investigations of the most serious use-of-force cases.[19] FID is obligated to launch an investigation immediately upon the occurrence of a triggering event and to circulate a preliminary report to senior executives within 48 to 72 hours of the incident, followed by a preliminary presentation to the Commissioner and the First Deputy within two weeks.[20] The First Deputy continues to receive monthly updates on all pending FID cases. In 2017, FID handled 74 cases; in 2018, FID handled 63 cases (as of December 24, 2018).

[18] A fifth category, “for information and intelligence only,” commonly called “I & I,” is used for complaints that are so clearly not credible that no investigation is required, or are duplicates of complaints.

[19] NYPD, Use of Force Report 9-10 (2017), https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/nypd/downloads/pdf/use-of-force/use-of-force-2017.pdf.

[20] The Patrol Guide sets forth slightly different timelines for these steps. The NYPD has informed the Panel that those Patrol Guide provisions are earmarked for revision to conform with current practice.