When an investigation is finished, the entire case file, along with a closing report prepared by the investigator, is given to a panel comprised of three board members—one mayoral designee, one city council designee, and one police commissioner designee. This panel decides on the outcome of the case. In order to make findings on the allegations, the panel reviews the investigator’s closing report and evaluates evidence gathered during the course of the investigation. A unanimous vote or two-to-one vote by the panel results in the following possible outcomes.
Findings on the Merits reflect the board’s determination on whether or not an officer’s actions are misconduct. There must be a preponderance of evidence to support a finding.
- Substantiated: means there is sufficient credible evidence to believe that the subject officer committed the alleged act without legal justification. Substantiated cases are sent to the police department with a disciplinary recommendation.
- Exonerated: means the subject officer was found to have committed the act alleged, but the officer’s actions were determined to be lawful.
- Unfounded: means there is sufficient credible evidence to believe that the subject officer did not commit the alleged act.
Other Findings reflect the board’s decision that there isn’t enough evidence to determine whether or not what the officer did was wrong.
- Unsubstantiated: means the available evidence is insufficient to determine whether the officer did or did not commit misconduct.
- Officer(s) Unidentified: means the agency was unable to identify the officers who committed the alleged misconduct.
- Miscellaneous: most of the time this means that the subject officer is no longer a member of the NYPD.
Truncated Investigations are cases where the CCRB is unable to get an in-person statement or other necessary cooperation from an alleged victim, and must therefore halt the investigation and close the case. This means that no factual finding is ever made about whether or not misconduct occurred. Truncated investigations are closed for the following reasons:
- Complainant/Victim Uncooperative is a case where the person does not respond to repeated attempts by the investigator to set up an interview or fails to show up for two scheduled interviews. At a minimum, the investigator must send two letters and make five phone calls before a case is closed for this reason.
- Complainant Unavailable is a case where the complaint was filed without any contact information or with inaccurate information, and the investigator is unable to locate the complainant. Investigators use many methods to try to find people before a case is closed for this reason, including searching databases such as reverse-number directories, internet searches, and Lexis searches.
- Complaint Withdrawn is a case where the complainant tells us that they no longer wish to go forward and asks to withdraw the complaint. No case is closed for this reason until the person states that they are voluntarily withdrawing the complaint.
- Victim Unidentified is a case where there isn’t enough information to locate an alleged victim. This happens most often after someone else, rather than the victim, has filed a complaint about an incident.