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New York makes complaint records of 83,000 police officers available to public

New York makes complaint records of 83,000 police officers available to public

 Files made public as part of a national push for greater police transparency following the death of George Floyd

Database of current and former officers is searchable by precinct, name, rank, shield number or by number of substantiated complaints.
Database of current and former officers is searchable by precinct, name, rank, shield number or by number of substantiated complaints. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The complaint records of 83,000 active and former New York City police officers have been added to a searchable public database justice advocates hope will help citizens and activists identify problem officers and trends in police abuse.

The records were made public as part of a national push for greater police transparency following the death of George Floyd, an African American man, under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis last year.

One month after Floyd’s death, New York lawmakers repealed a shield law protecting police records. Federal courts rejected efforts by police unions to keep the records secret.

This month, in a move first reported by Insider, the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board made available online a database of hundreds of complaints against tens of thousands of current and former officers.

The database is searchable by precinct, name, rank, shield number or by number of substantiated complaints.

Only complaints handled by the complaint review board appear in the database, the board advises.

Common complaints recorded against officers in the database include abuse of authority by strip searching, frisking, drawing a gun or threatening arrest; use of offensive language pertaining to race or ethnicity; use of inappropriate force including chokeholds, handcuffs closed too tightly or the use of a nightstick as a club; and refusal to provide a name or shield number.

The civilian board can recommend disciplinary action to answer substantiated complaints, but discretion over disciplinary decisions lies with the police commissioner.

Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed a police reform bill that would ban chokeholds and make it easier to prosecute police officers. The legislation appears to be stalled in the Senate.

If passed, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would ban racial profiling, redirect funding from some police programs to community organizations and prohibit so-called “no-knock” search warrants in which police enter homes unannounced.

The former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial on murder charges in Floyd’s death. On Friday, a judge denied a defense request to delay or move the trial out of Minneapolis.

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