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ProPublica makes police misconduct searchable with new online database

ProPublica's new NYPD Files database will make police misconduct searchable for the public. (Screenshot)

Got a badge number?

You can now punch it into ProPublica’s new search engine that takes data from the city Civilian Complaint Review Board to offer the public transparency on which officers have complaints against them for police misconduct.

By name or number, close to 4,000 NYPD officers can be found in the database, known as The NYPD Files, with details on over 12,000 violations launched against them over the course of their careers.

Categories for violations include using inanimate objects such as pistols, radios, and flashlights as clubs to pummel suspects to other forms of excessive force that may pertain more toward riot control such as using a police shield as a weapon. Abuse of authority allegations can include instances of stop and frisk, an officer’s refusal to provide a name or shield number, illegally entering premises or sexual misconduct.

Sexual misconduct can range from sexual humiliation to harassment.

If a cop has pulled a gun on a suspect without a valid reason for discharged their firearm, they may have ended up in the database.

Discourtesy as well as offensive language can also land an active-duty officer on the list, including if they have ever directed a racial slur at someone while on the job, made rude gestures, or attacked a person’s sexual orientation.

Whether a charge against an officer was substantiated, unsubstantiated or they were exonerated, the database will offer details additional detail as to which division individuals belong to.

The NYPD Files may be useful to activists pushing for law enforcement reform after a tumultuous few months across the nation. New York City is still seeing unrest stemming from the May murder of George Floyd at the hands of Milwaukee police officers.

Since then, New York City has banned NYPD use of chokeholds and defunded the department by up to $1 billion, through many activist groups say this will only bring about superficial change. 

A bill protecting the identities of officers with their own criminal records, 50-A, has also been repealed by the state.

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