Bad Cops: A Study of Career Ending Misconduct in the New York City Police Department

James J. Fyfe, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Peter R. Jones, Temple University
Robert J. Kane, The American University
Robert Tillman, St. John's University

This paper will report on a National Institute of Justice study of all 1,543 New York City police officers who were dismissed (n=863), terminated (n=349), or forced to resign or retire (n=331) for reasons of misconduct during the 22 years 1975-1996. The researchers have identified questions of theoretical and operational significance through a survey of the literature, through consultation with a project advisory committee of police scholars and former police administrators, and through consultation with NYPD administrators and focus groups of NYPD commanders, supervisors, and patrol officers. The authors were granted access to the NYPD's personnel orders and files, which were searched to identify both involuntarily separated officers ("IVs") and a same-sized (n=1,542) random sample of their police academy cohorts ("controls"). A methodological advisory committee assisted in preparation of coding instruments that captured data on officers' pre-employment histories and career experiences, including their disciplinary records. All human subjects concerns were identified and approved by the appropriate institutional review boards. Under the supervision of the authors, NYPD staff members were trained and employed to review all files and to code the data. Random validity and quality control checks were conducted, and demonstrated acceptable results. Once coded, the data were analyzed to describe the characteristics and experiences of IV officers, the manners in which their careers ended, and the variables upon which they differ from control officers. Differences between IV and control officers in the distribution of these variables' values served as tests of the hypotheses we had generated.

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Updated 05/20/2006