NYC CIVILIAN COMPLAINT REVIEW BOARD ISSUES 2015 MID-YEAR REPORT: COMPLAINTS ARE DOWN, SUBSTANTIATIONS ARE INCREASING AND VIDEO EVIDENCE IS INCREASINGLY PARAMOUNT TO INVESTIGATIONS

The NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) issued its 2015 Semi-Annual Report today which details four key trends: 1) a declining number of complaints against officers, reaching the lowest level since 2001;  2) an increase in the rate at which CCRB substantiates complaints, stemming in large part from the increased availability of video evidence; 3) improved agency productivity has significantly shortened the time it takes to complete a full investigation; and 4) unprecedented cooperation between the CCRB and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) resulted in the vast majority of the Agency’s disciplinary recommendations being adopted.

 

First, complaints filed with the Agency decreased by 22% compared to the first half of 2014 and were the lowest number filed for any six-month period since 2001. The CCRB received 2,092 complaints in 2015, compared to 2,698 in the first six-months of 2014. All categories of misconduct that occurred during the alleged incidents decreased– force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and offensive language.

 

The CCRB also analyzed the NYPD officers who were the subject of misconduct complaints filed with the CCRB in the last 18 months, from January 2014 through June 2015. These statistics show that 3,721 officers, about 10% of the total force, were responsible for 78.5% of complaints. 32,006 officers (86%) had no complaints against them and 14% of NYPD officers are responsible for all civilian complaints to the CCRB.

 

 

Second, the ever-growing access to video is enhancing the CCRB’s investigations, particularly into allegations of improper force.  In the first half of 2015, the percentage of force investigations with video evidence increased to 21%, up from 4% in 2012.  The percentage of substantiated force cases where video evidence was central to the investigation, increased from 15% in 2012 to 45% in 2015.  It was 26% in 2013 and 34% in 2014.

 

The growth in video evidence stems from the rapid response work of CCRB’s new field evidence collection team, created under the December 2014 reorganization of the Investigations Division.  The team goes to incident locations, often within hours of a complaint filing, to canvas for surveillance video and witnesses. The Agency is also receiving more video from bystanders.

 

Richard Emery, Board Chair said, “ “This report documents the confluence of two significant statistics – the continuing decrease in civilian complaints against NYPD officers and the remarkable fact that very few officers are responsible for almost all CCRB complaints. What this means for New Yorkers is that police misconduct is not intractable and is on the wane. A shift in the NYPD culture towards civilians and the use of body-worn cameras will improve police-community relations, resulting in bigger drops in complaints to come.”

 

Third, Agency productivity highlights include:

  • The Board’s rate of substantiating complaints was 21% of full investigations, or 237 out of 1,117 cases compared to a 15% substantiation rate in the first half of 2014.  The CCRB credits the prevalence of video and timelier investigations – resulting in fresher interviews and better evidence – for the increased substantiation rate.
  • New cases were fully investigated in 77 days, on average.  This is a 72% reduction compared to the average time to investigate a case a year ago – 271 days.  Looking at all investigations – old cases and new ones – 85% were closed in less than four months. During the same period of 2014, only 54% of cases were closed in less than four months.

Mina Malik, CCRB’s Executive Director said “The CCRB is providing better service than ever before. By conducting quality investigations that are timely and thorough, we fulfill one of the goals of civilian oversight, with justice for civilians and officers alike.  The certainty that justice will be done supports the process of healing police-community relations.”

 

Fourth, Police Department discipline highlights:

  • The discipline rate surged to 91% for substantiated misconduct referred to the NYPD’s Department Advocate’s Office with a penalty recommendation of Command Discipline or Instructions – against  91 officers. The rate was the highest it’s been since the creation of the independent CCRB in 1993.  In the first half of 2014, the rate was 58.5%.
  • 99 officers were disciplined in the first half of 2015, stemming from cases prosecuted by the CCRB’s Administrative Prosecution Unit.  In 2015, 84 cases were resolved by trial or by plea, or 85% of all APU cases, as compared to 9 out of 16 in the first half of 2014, or 56%.

Stop-and-frisk highlights:

  • The number of stop-and-frisk complaints declined 23% from January through June 2015, compared to the same period of 2014. The reason appears to be the drop in documented street encounters by police, from 45,787 in calendar year 2014, the lowest since 2000, to 13,405 in the first half of 2015.
  • In 2015, civilians were increasingly likely to file a complaint when they were searched; with 57% of stop-and-frisk complaints involved a search allegation. Yet Police Department statistics show that officers appear to be conducting searches in approximately 17% of street encounters. The CCRB received one search complaint for every nine documented searches, compared to 2014 when it received one search complaint for every 12 encounters.  In 2010 the ratio was one to 51.
  • The Board’s substantiation rate for improper stop-and-frisk complaints was 26%, compared to 20% in the first half of 2014.
  • The Board continued to document failures by officers to complete stop-and-frisk reports (UF-250s) in the cases it investigated. The failure was 16% in the first half of 2015, 18% in calendar year 2014, 17% in 2013, 20% in 2012, 13% in 2011 and 9% in 2010

The report updated statistics from 2014, pertaining to the problem of false official statements. In the first half of 2015, the Board noted 19 allegations of false official statements by officers in closed cases, 18 of which stemmed from 2014 incidents.  These 19 allegations are on pace to exceed the 26 noted for calendar year 2014.  Video evidence is the primary reason for the increase.

 

In addition to allegations of false official statements, the report identified two other trends that merit NYPD attention: 1)the persistence of improper searches despite the drop in stop-and-frisk encounters; 2) the increase in the percentage of substantiated complaints of unnecessary or excessive force.

 

The full report is available on the CCRB’s website: www.nyc.gov/ccrb on the News, Reports & Statistics page, via the left navigation.

Print Friendly
Share this Article: