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Reforms to the NYPD Disciplinary System

For years, the New York City Police Department has worked to refine its internal disciplinary system. Last year, an independent outside panel of former prosecutors and judges reviewed the system and found it to be fair and effective. The independent panel also made recommendations for further improvements, which the NYPD accepted and largely implemented by mid-2020. The Department recently announced updates on the implementation of these recommendations.

The NYPD now publishes annual data on discipline, it has increased penalties and required counseling for officers involved in DWI incidents, domestic violence incidents, and requires mandatory dismissal for repeat offenders.

All of this advances the NYPD's priority to make discipline as fair, effective, and transparent as possible for an agency privileged to manage many millions of interactions with the public each year. Last year, the city received more than 9 million 911 calls alone, generating 6.4 million radio runs for our police officers. This on top of the millions more interactions stemming from those seeking help at our 77 police precincts and the implementation of Neighborhood Policing which freed one-third of every patrol officer's workday so they can interact and better connect with those they serve.

It is also one part of the broader reform agenda that the NYPD has championed since 2014, which includes:

  • Distributing body-worn-cameras to all officers.
  • Overhauling our use-of-force policies and creating a Force Investigation Division.
  • Instituting new implicit bias, de-escalation and crisis intervention team training.
  • Partnering with other City agencies on co-response teams, participating in a variety of diversion programs with our District Attorney colleagues, and partnering with community leaders on Operation Ceasefire and Project Reset.
  • Developing our Neighborhood Policing philosophy to focus on local problems by connecting officers with those they serve.
  • Instituting Precision Policing which focuses enforcement on the relative few that drive crime in this city, while allowing us to continue reducing our enforcement footprint by tens of thousands of arrests and summonses each year and at the same time driving crime to historic lows.
  • Twice reforming our marihuana enforcement policy and Theft of Service (turnstile jumping) policy resulting in thousands fewer arrests each year.
  • Advocating for amendments to civil service law 50-a which limited public access to the discipline records of police officers that could be released. The NYPD long advocated for reforms to this law to make it more transparent while balancing officer safety. CRL 50-a was repealed in June, 2020 and, though temporarily blocked in the courts, allows for the disclosure of disciplinary actions taken by the Department.

2019 Overview

In 2019, the NYPD closed discipline cases involving 339 uniformed members of service (UMOS). This does not include UMOS who received command level discipline.

In 2019, there were 79 department trials. Of these, 13 UMOS pled guilty to the underlying charges and had a mitigation hearing, 49 were found guilty of at least one charge after trial, and 17 UMOS were found not guilty of all charges. The majority of charges involved violations of department rules (189 UMOS) and DWI/alcohol related or force related infractions (26 UMOS each).

Of the 322 UMOS that pleaded or were found guilty after trial:

  • 3.1% were dismissed from the department.
  • 5.3% submitted for service or vested retirement from the department. The top three charges for forced separation were department rule violations, DWI/alcohol related infractions, and unlawful/criminal conduct.
  • 29.2% resulted in dismissal probation with forfeited penalty days. The top two charges for those receiving this combination of penalties were violation of department rules and DWI/alcohol-related.
  • Reprimand was not used as a penalty in any disciplinary cases closed in 2019.

2019 charges to penalties

**This number includes officers who were found not guilty of all charges after trial.

***This number includes officers who pled guilty and entered into settlement agreements, pled guilty and testified in mitigation of the penalty, and those who were found guilty after trial.

The graph below outlines the top charges served to the 322, or 95%, of UMOS charged with a disciplinary case who pleaded guilty and entered into settlement agreements or were found guilty after trial.

UMOS found guilty after trial

*Percentages based on total number of UMOS who pleaded or were found guilty of disciplinary charges after trial.

The NYPD’s efforts to create greater accountability is a work in progress. It is ever-evolving to reflect the department’s high standards for the policing profession. What follows are links to some of our most important policies and reports, and data sets, that shed light on our performance and innovations for this integral portion of our public service mission.

Reforms to the NYPD Disciplinary System