Phillips & Associates

Civilian Complaint Review Board

Legal Guidance for Victims of Police Misconduct in New York City

Police misconduct, in the form of excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or offensive language, may be terrifying for civilians. At Phillips & Associates, we take our clients' civil rights seriously. One of the ways to effect positive change in how the police handle their investigations and arrests is to report misconduct. Filing a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board can be a useful tool in seeking recourse after experiencing police misconduct in New York City. However, you may also want to consult a civil rights attorney, particularly if you are a criminal defendant. Your statements to the CCRB can be used against you in a criminal case or adversely affect a civil case for damages.

What is the Civilian Complaint Review Board?

Established in 1993 under Chapter 18-A of the New York City Charter, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) is a New York City agency that handles complaints about police misconduct. The agency is able to take complaints, investigate, mediate, hear, make findings, and recommend that certain actions be taken on complaints against police officers. Findings are forwarded to the police commissioner. The staff is made up of civilians and is independent from the police department. The agency has subpoena power.

Complaints to the CCRB are organized as claims about force, authority abuses, discourtesy, or offensive language. Force claims are those relating to excessive force. This is conduct not justified by the situation, such as punching or shooting a civilian or using pepper spray. Abuse of authority claims refer to when police abuse their powers to intimidate or mistreat a civilian, such as by improperly stopping and frisking or improperly searching a vehicle. Offensive language claims refer to slurs, gestures, and derogatory remarks based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, physical disability, or sexual orientation. Discourtesy, such as use of foul language or gestures, by a police officer can also be reported.

How does the complaint process work? After you make a complaint, it is turned over to an investigative team. You will be asked to give an in-person statement. Although most of these interviews are conducted at the CCRB office, in cases of hardship, the investigator can travel to you. You will be asked to provide detailed descriptions, including physical descriptions and badge numbers of the police officers involved and the contact information for any witnesses. You will also be asked to sign a verification form to confirm the accuracy and truthfulness of your statements during the interview.

The CCRB will interview the names of witnesses you provide. It can then use its subpoena powers to look at your medical records and police department records. Typically, the police officers whose conduct is at issue will also be interviewed as soon as possible. Once the investigation is complete, a three-member panel will review the case and vote on allegations of the complaint. Determination of whether there was misconduct is based on a preponderance of the evidence standard.

An attorney with the CCRB's Administrative Prosecution Unit can prosecute cases when the board recommends this action. This prosecution is reserved for very serious incidents.

Contact a New York City Attorney after a Civil Rights Violation

The New York State Civil Service Law requires that police officers that are subject to allegations of misconduct be served with disciplinary charges within 18 months of the misconduct. If you are subject to police misconduct, it may be prudent to file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board. In some circumstances, however, your case may be more appropriate for a lawsuit, or you may be able to do both. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights lawyers offer experienced representation for New York City residents from Staten Island and Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our online form.

Client Reviews
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I called at Phillips & Associates seeking for a consultation and I was very pleased with the conversation I had with Eugenio Benvenuto. He was able to answer my questions thoroughly and gave me reassurance. I highly recommend their practice. Giulia
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Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day.The other associates that assisted Brittany were Yusha Hiraman, Eugenio Benvenuto and Katerina Housos. They were all professional and answered any questions or concerns that I had. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done. Massimo
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Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues. Karen
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I highly recommend Parisis (Gerry) Fillippatos with Phillips & Associates to represent you for employment related matters. He and his team were professional, attentive to every detail and brilliant at identifying the legal grounds to win the case. Parisis's communication and delivery were highly articulate and precise. He is personable and makes you feel comfortable in the maze of legal jargon. Finally, his confidence, perseverance and masterful negotiation skills deliver the win. Anonymous
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I had an excellent experience with this team! Thanks, Marjorie, Brittany, and Candy for your great support and prompt answers to all my questions. I highly recommend this firm. This team works very hard and I am extremely happy with the results. Ana