The New York City Police Department is committed to a fair and transparent disciplinary process. In 2018, the NYPD asked an independent outside panel of judges and former prosecutors to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Department’s disciplinary system. While the panel determined that, in all, the system is robust and fair, they made 13 recommendations for improvement which the NYPD accepted and largely implemented by mid-2020 (see, updates on the implementation of the recommendations). One of the recommendations was that the Department consider a discipline penalty matrix to outline the presumptive penalties for a wide variety of possible offenses – both violations of internal Department rules and police misconduct in encounters with members of the public. The NYPD Disciplinary System Penalty Guidelines, almost two years in the making, is the product of that effort. The process to develop the matrix was a collaborative effort with a wide variety of police oversight entities, public interest groups, elected leaders, and other interested parties. The final product relies heavily on public comments gathered from August to October of last year.
The production of this matrix comes at a pivotal moment. It continues the work the NYPD has been engaged in over the past seven years to adopt a series of significant reforms including: the development of the Neighborhood Policing philosophy; the distribution of body-worn cameras to all officers; significant revisions to our use of force policies; and the implementation of implicit bias and crisis intervention training. The matrix gives the members of the Department and the members of the public a clearer understanding of how penalties will be imposed when officers are found guilty of, or plead guilty to, disciplinary charges and eliminates the perception of favoritism or bias that can undermine the legitimacy of the disciplinary process. Moreover, the matrix reflects the Police Commissioner's commitment that every member of the service is held accountable for his or her conduct based upon reasonable standards and preserves the fundamental concept of police discretion.
On February 4, 2021, the NYPD and Civilian Complaint Review Board signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen the disciplinary matrix and ensure greater transparency around the disciplinary process. Specifically, this MOU: confirms that the NYPD and CCRB will use the matrix as a framework to guide penalties for officer misconduct; requires the NYPD and CCRB to describe, in writing, the basis for any departures from the matrix and make such document publicly available; reiterates the Police Commissioner’s obligation to notify the CCRB when he intends to impose a penalty that is less than CCRB’s recommendation and make that determination publicly available; and ensures CCRB’s access to officer employment history for any substantiated allegations.
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:
**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.
*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.