Research

New York State Office of the Special Prosecutor for Investigation of the New York City Criminal Justice System Background and Investigation files of the New York City Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police Corruption and the City's Anti-Corruption Procedures

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
The Knapp Commission was charged with identifying "patterns of corruption" within the New York City Police Department and investigating administrative procedures and operations for dealing with corruption. Records in this series include hearing transcripts, interview notes, complaint forms, questionnaires, subject and correspondence files, tape recordings, and minutes. Topics include specific types of criminal activity and on police involvement in them, relations between the police and citizens in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, and the work habits and culture of NYC police.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
63.5 cubic feet (including 16 motion picture films and 209 audio reels/cassettes)
Inclusive Dates:
1960-1975
Bulk Dates:
1970-1972
Series Number:
16012

Administrative History

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Police Corruption and the City's Anti-Corruption Procedures (Knapp Commission) was established by New York City Mayor John Lindsay on May 21, 1970, and completed its work in 1972. The Knapp Commission was charged with identifying "patterns of corruption" within the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and investigating administrative procedures and operations for dealing with corruption. The commission had no prosecutorial powers; prospective criminal cases were referred to the county district attorneys. The Knapp Commission investigative staff was drawn almost entirely from federal investigative agencies. While challenges to the commission's subpoena power as well as financial cutbacks hampered its work, the commission did hold numerous public and executive sessions hearings, at which police officers and administrators, businessmen, and others testified. During its existence, the Knapp Commission investigated over 1,700 complaints of police corruption or criminal activity.

The Knapp Commission's final report found that "patterns of corruption," including gambling, narcotics, prostitution, and "gratuities," had pervaded the NYPD. It also found serious deficiencies in the NYPD's administrative responsiveness to corruption. According to the report, illegal activity by police officers flourished because of organizational fragmentation, lax or inconsistent discipline, inadequate supervision, "improper attitudes," administrative delays, and "disorganized records." The report also recommended that the NYPD develop a plan for fighting corruption within its ranks; impose stiffer penalties for bribe givers; improve its recordkeeping; and advocate changes in laws on gambling, prostitution, and other violations. The Knapp Commission recommended that the Governor appoint a Special Deputy Attorney General to investigate corruption in the criminal process in New York City. This recommendation led to the establishment of an Office of the Special Prosecutor for Corruption in the NYC Criminal Justice System.

Scope and Content Note

Records in this series include hearing transcripts, interview notes, complaint forms, questionnaires, subject and correspondence files, tape recordings, and minutes generated by the Knapp Commission. The records contain information on specific types of criminal activity and on police involvement in them; on relations between the police and citizens in black and Hispanic neighborhoods; and on the work habits and culture of New York City police. A nearly complete set of transcripts of the public hearings held by the commission in October and December 1971 is found in accretion 16012-90, Box 40. (The State Archives never received a transcript of the October 26 hearing.)

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Partly restricted by Freedom of Information Law sect. 87.2(a), (b), (e), (f), and (g). Statues restricting access to certain materials pursuant to Freedom of Information Law sect. 87.2(a) are Criminal Procedure Law sect. 700.65 (communications intercepted by authority of an "eavesdropping" warrant); Penal Law sect. 215.70 (grand jury testimony); Civil Practice Law and Rules sect. 3101(b) (confidential attorney-client communications); and Criminal Procedure Law sect. 240.10(2) (confidential attorney work product or material prepared for litigation).

Public hearing transcripts are available for public inspection and copying.

Related Information

Other finding aids

Container lists and an unpublished list of public hearings are available at the repository.

Related Publications

The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption, New York: George Braziller, 1973.

Custodial History

The Commission records were likely transferred to the Special Prosecutor's Office in the early 1970s. The records were accessioned by the State Archives in 1990-1991.

Access Terms

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