Chapter 18-A: Civilian Complaint Review Board

Section 440.

Section 440. Public complaints against members of the police department.

(a) It is in the interest of the people of the city of New York and the New York city police department that the investigation of complaints concerning misconduct by officers of the department towards members of the public be complete, thorough and impartial. These inquiries must be conducted fairly and independently, and in a manner in which the public and the police department have confidence. An independent civilian complaint review board is hereby established as a body comprised solely of members of the public with the authority to investigate allegations of police misconduct as provided in this section.
  1. Civilian complaint review board.

   1. The civilian complaint review board shall consist of thirteen members of the public appointed by the mayor, who shall be residents of the city of New York and shall reflect the diversity of the city’s population. The members of the board shall be appointed as follows: (i) five members, one from each of the five boroughs, shall be designated by the city council; (ii) three members with experience as law enforcement professionals shall be designated by the police commissioner; and (iii) the remaining five members shall be selected by the mayor. The mayor shall select one of the members to be chair.

   2. No member of the board shall hold any other public office or employment. No members, except those designated by the police commissioner, shall have experience as law enforcement professionals, or be former employees of the New York city police department. For the purposes of this section, experience as a law enforcement professional shall include experience as a police officer, criminal investigator, special agent, or a managerial or supervisory employee who exercised substantial policy discretion on law enforcement matters, in a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, other than experience as an attorney in a prosecutorial agency.

   3. The members shall be appointed for terms of three years, except that of the members first appointed, four shall be appointed for terms of one year, of whom one shall have been designated by the council and two shall have been designated by the police commissioner, four shall be appointed for terms of two years, of whom two shall have been designated by the council, and five shall be appointed for terms of three years, of whom two shall have been designated by the council and one shall have been designated by the police commissioner.

   4. In the event of a vacancy on the board during the term of office of a member by reason of removal, death, resignation, or otherwise, a successor shall be chosen in the same manner as the original appointment. A member appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve for the balance of the unexpired term.

  1. Powers and duties of the board.

   1. The board shall have the power to receive, investigate, hear, make findings and recommend action upon complaints by members of the public against members of the police department that allege misconduct involving excessive use of force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or use of offensive language, including, but not limited to, slurs relating to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability. The findings and recommendations of the board, and the basis therefor, shall be submitted to the police commissioner. No finding or recommendation shall be based solely upon an unsworn complaint or statement, nor shall prior unsubstantiated, unfounded or withdrawn complaints be the basis for any such finding or recommendation.

   2. The board shall promulgate rules of procedure in accordance with the city administrative procedure act, including rules that prescribe the manner in which investigations are to be conducted and recommendations made and the manner by which a member of the public is to be informed of the status of his or her complaint. Such rules may provide for the establishment of panels, which shall consist of not less than three members of the board, which shall be empowered to supervise the investigation of complaints, and to hear, make findings and recommend action on such complaints. No such panel shall consist exclusively of members designated by the council, or designated by the police commissioner, or selected by the mayor.

   3. The board, by majority vote of its members, may compel the attendance of witnesses and require the production of such records and other materials as are necessary for the investigation of complaints submitted pursuant to this section.

   4. The board shall establish a mediation program pursuant to which a complainant may voluntarily choose to resolve a complaint by means of informal conciliation.

   5. The board is authorized, within appropriations available therefor, to appoint such employees as are necessary to exercise its powers and fulfill its duties. The board shall employ civilian investigators to investigate all complaints.

   6. The board shall issue to the mayor and the city council a semi-annual report which shall describe its activities and summarize its actions.

   7. The board shall have the responsibility of informing the public about the board and its duties, and shall develop and administer an on-going program for the education of the public regarding the provisions of this chapter.

  1. Cooperation of police department.

   1. It shall be the duty of the police department to provide such assistance as the board may reasonably request, to cooperate fully with investigations by the board, and to provide to the board upon request records and other materials which are necessary for the investigation of complaints submitted pursuant to this section, except such records or materials that cannot be disclosed by law.

   2. The police commissioner shall ensure that officers and employees of the police department appear before and respond to inquiries of the board and its civilian investigators in connection with the investigation of complaints submitted pursuant to this section, provided that such inquiries are conducted in accordance with department procedures for interrogation of members.

   3. The police commissioner shall report to the board on any action taken in cases in which the board submitted a finding or recommendation to the police commissioner with respect to a complaint.

  1. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit or impair the authority of the police commissioner to discipline members of the department. Nor shall the provisions of this section be construed to limit the rights of members of the department with respect to disciplinary action, including but not limited to the right to notice and a hearing, which may be established by any provision of law or otherwise.
  2. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prevent or hinder the investigation or prosecution of members of the department for violations of law by any court of competent jurisdiction, a grand jury, district attorney, or other authorized officer, agency or body.