NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City police watchdog group says it will start investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by officers.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board said Thursday it was important to perform independent and impartial reviews of such allegations. The review board already investigates allegations of other misconduct, like excessive force.

But until the vote, the agency had referred allegations of sexual misconduct to the NYPD's internal affairs bureau for investigation. The agency says it's authorized to investigate the claims because it is tasked with probing abuse of authority claims made against the department.

The police commissioner has the ultimate say on whether an officer is punished internally. But if allegations are criminal, prosecutors would determine whether to charge an officer.

The agency said it will train staff on how to investigate such claims.