A total of 229 police officers were disciplined in 2012, according to a report released today from the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Let's dig into the data, shall we?

For the purposes of this study, a "complaint" is described as "a case stemming from a civilian encounter with police, in which the civilian believes the officer(s) committed acts of misconduct." Furthermore, "an individual complaint received by the CCRB can contain multiple allegations against one or more officers. Each allegation the agency investigates falls within one of four categories: force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and offensive language."

In total, the CCRB received 5,763 complaints in 2012, which represents a 3 percent decrease from 2011, when it received 5,969, and a 22 percent decrease from 2008, when it received 7,395.

However! The board notes that Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to its main phone line, meaning the number of calls dropped precipitously during the several months it remained out of service. Prior to Sandy, the number of complaints were up one percent from 2011. Complaint activity remained low until March of 2013, when the former system was finally restored, at which point complaints again rose to normal levels—so take that 3 percent decrease with a grain of salt.


Improper use of stop-and-frisk accounts for roughly 30 percent of complaints received by the agency, although the number has decreased steadily: In 2012, CCRB received 1,551 stop-and-frisk complaints, versus 1,640 in 2011—a 5 percent decrease. Interestingly, the group reports that after years of increases, the number of stop-and-frisk encounters generally is down by 22 percent.

  • Brooklyn generated the most complaints of any borough, with 1,954 in total. The Bronx had the second highest, with 1,254.
  • African Americans comprise just 23 percent of the city's population, but 57 percent of the alleged victims of misconduct. Men comprised 71 percent of alleged victims.
  • In the force category, “physical force” was by far the most common allegation, with "gun pointed" arriving as a distant second.
  • In the discourtesy category, “words” accounted for 94 percent of allegations. Offensive language is its own category, with the most common allegations regarding race and/or ethnicity.
  • The 229 officers disciplined in 2012 marked a five-year high, up from 153 in 2008.

Anyone interested in parsing the data themselves can do so here.