Law enforcement

Civil Rights

Providing New Yorkers with a fair criminal justice system 

Every New Yorker has a right to a just and accountable public-safety system.  

The Office of the New York State Attorney General (OAG) promotes equal justice under the law. We promote fairness and accountability in policing and criminal justice systems across the state.   

We investigate claims of illegal police practices under state, federal, and local laws where there is a “pattern or practice” (including an official or unofficial policy) of unconstitutional or discriminatory conduct. We also investigate claims of illegal practices in local correctional facilities. 

For example, we recently issued a preliminary report and filed a lawsuit regarding the New York City Police Department’s practice of unlawfully arresting and using excessive force against protestors exercising their First Amendment rights. We also settled a lawsuit against Erie County for failing to report and address allegations of sexual misconduct in its jails. 

To report an incident that involves criminal justice and shows a continuing pattern of unlawful practices, you can:

File a criminal justice complaint


Complaints about the NYC Police Department (NYPD) can also be reported to the Civilian Complaint Review Board:

File a criminal justice complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board

Law enforcement oversight

The OAG seeks to protect the safety and civil rights of New Yorkers by preventing and remedying law enforcement misconduct.

The OAG has statewide jurisdiction over New York’s more than 500 local law enforcement agencies and investigates wrongdoing, examines departmental policies and procedures, makes recommendations for reform, and publicly reports its findings.

Executive Law 75(5)(a) requires personnel to report information about wrongdoing to the OAG. Executive Law 75(5)(b) requires agencies to refer to the OAG instances in which their personnel have received five or more complaints within two years.

Our office does not investigate complaints about the state police or state prisons. For these complaints, please contact: 

State police:

File a complaint with the New York Inspector General

State prison: 

File a complaint with the Office of Special Investigations (DOCCS)

Investigation into NYPD interactions with protesters

Attorney General Letitia James' virtual public hearings on police and public interactions during protests in the wake of George Floyd's death

As part of this investigation into interactions between NYPD officers and civilians during recent protests following the killing of George Floyd, Attorney General James, joined by special advisors to the investigation, former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and founding Director of New York University Policing Project Barry Friedman, held a virtual public hearing on June 17 and June 18, 2020, to examine the nature and details of these interactions.

Members of the public, government officials, and community leaders were invited to provide written and oral testimony. In total, there were more than 300 submitted pieces of written testimony and 17 hours of oral testimony from individuals present at protests, elected officials, legal groups, and community organizations. There were 52 speakers on the first day of the hearing, including 20 members of the public, 17 government officials, and 15 community organizations. The second day of the hearing saw 48 speakers, with 44 members of the public, two government officials, a community organization, and a law enforcement organization.

Special investigation

The OAG investigates deaths caused by police officers or peace officers, including corrections officers. In cases where investigation shows that a crime was committed, the OAG presents evidence to a grand jury. If the grand jury returns an indictment, we prosecute the case. In cases where the investigation shows that an officer caused a death, but that a crime cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the OAG publishes a report detailing the facts disclosed by the investigation and explaining why the evidence would not amount to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We also make recommendations for improvements to policing and corrections in published investigative reports.

The OAG’s authority comes from Section 70-b of New York’s Executive Law (Section 70-b), which went into effect on April 1, 2021, establishing the Office of Special Investigation (OSI). Before April 1, 2021, OSI’s predecessor unit, the Special Investigation and Prosecution Unit (SIPU), conducted investigations and prosecutions under a governor’s executive order issued in 2015.

OSI is staffed by attorneys, investigators, analysts, and family and community liaisons. The OAG conducts over 200 investigations annually and publishes an annual report on its work every October 1. The annual report also contains recommendations for improvements in policing and corrections and provides comprehensive demographic and other data. The annual reports are available via the links below.