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Your Questions About the New York City Police Complaint Data, Answered

We’ve tackled a few of the most common questions from the public and journalists, including what data we received and what we did and didn’t publish.

New York City Police Department officers and vehicles in Manhattan on June 12. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

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Since we published The NYPD Files, we’ve fielded a number of questions about the data from readers. We’ve answered a few of the most common ones here.

What data did you release?

We are releasing 33,358 allegations filed with New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board against current NYPD officers, as long as those officers have had at least one complaint against them substantiated. These allegations have all been fully investigated by the CCRB.

This represents allegations against 3,996 officers employed as of June 2020. We do not have allegations against officers who are no longer employed by the NYPD.

What data did you receive from the NYC CCRB?

We received 36,892 total allegations.

Which records did you not release?

Of the data we received, we have excluded from our published app and the data download 3,213 individual allegations labeled as “unfounded” — under 9% of the total number of records.

We also removed a small number of officers (62) against whom the CCRB had substantiated allegations, but whose substantiated allegations had not gone fully through the NYPD’s administrative prosecution process.

Is the data you received different from the data that the New York Civil Liberties Union has? If so, how?

We requested fewer records than the NYCLU did, limiting our request only to officers who had at least one substantiated complaint.

I know that at least one complaint has been filed against an officer. Why can’t I find the officer (or the complaint) in the database?

If the officer is currently employed by the NYPD and is not in this dataset, then the CCRB had not substantiated at least one allegation against that person when we received the information. Some recent allegations may have been substantiated or investigated, but haven’t yet gone through the NYPD’s administrative prosecution process (which occurs after the CCRB’s process) and were not provided to us.

If the officer is in this data but you don’t see the complaint, it is most likely because the investigation had not been completed or fully closed by the time we received these records. That could be for a number of reasons, including the CCRB’s inability to contact the complainant. The data only includes complaints that have received full investigations and been closed. Therefore, it’s potentially missing instances with uncooperative or unreachable complainants.

The last reason you may not see a complaint is if the CCRB listed the complaint as “unfounded,” meaning that they determined that the allegation did not, in fact, occur. We removed these. We removed about 9% of records from this dataset with that categorization.

Why are there more complaints filed recently?

The data only includes closed cases for active-duty officers, so older cases against officers who have retired or left the force are not included. Also, newer cases that have not yet been fully closed or investigated — a process that can take months — are not included.

I don’t live in New York. How can I see information like this for my city?

We’re glad you asked! Andrew Ford, a reporter with the Asbury Park Press and a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, wrote a handy guide on just this question! Read the full article here, or check out our swipeable explainer on Instagram. If you find interesting data, let us know.

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Portrait of Ken Schwencke

Ken Schwencke

Ken Schwencke is the editor of our news applications team, which creates interactive databases and graphics.

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Celeste LeCompte

Celeste LeCompte is the vice president of strategy and operations at ProPublica, focused on revenue, partnerships and other strategic initiatives.

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