Knapp Commission

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Policing / Ethics

The Knapp Commission was an investigative body established in 1970 by the City of New York to investigate allegations of widespread corruption and bribery within the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

The Commission was named after its chairman, Whitman Knapp, a federal judge.

The Commission was formed in response to a series of articles published in the New York Times by journalist David Burnham, which alleged that police officers were routinely accepting bribes and engaging in other forms of corruption. The Knapp Commission conducted a two-year investigation, interviewing hundreds of witnesses and gathering extensive evidence.

The Commission’s final report, issued in 1972, documented widespread corruption within the NYPD, including accepting bribes, theft, falsifying records, and acts of brutality against citizens. The report also identified a code of silence among police officers, in which officers protected each other and covered up illegal activities.

The Knapp Commission’s findings led to major reforms within the NYPD, including the establishment of an internal affairs division to investigate allegations of police misconduct, the implementation of new training programs, and the creation of a civilian review board to oversee police behavior.

The Knapp Commission is often cited as a landmark moment in the history of police corruption and reform. Its work has influenced similar investigations and reform efforts in other cities and countries.

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Last Modified: 03/09/2023


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