Some New York Lawmakers Push To Make Police Records Public

Cutout Photo: Elvert Barnes / CC BY-SA 2.0

ALBANY – New York State lawmakers are drafting legislation that would make police disciplinary records more accessible to the public.

Currently, section 50-A of New York State Law prevents local officials from releasing records of police officers, firefighters and correction officers without written consent from the employee, or a court order.

As protesters continue to mourn the killing of George Floyd, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he would support a bill that would either repeal or reform the section.

Currently, Assemblymember Pat Fahy (D) is co-sponsoring legislation for repeal.

Earlier in the week, the Cuomo said he didn’t believe that 50-A blocked local governments from releasing disciplinary records, but a spokesperson for the New York Civil Liberties Union said it’s time for a repeal.

“In December of 2018, the NYS Court of Appeals held that 50-A is a categorical bar to the disclosure of officer disciplinary records. So even if a police department wants to release records to the public they’re prohibited from doing so until the state legislature takes action,” said NYCLU Lead Policy Counsel Michael Sisitzky.

However, there’s been opposition to changes.

Over the weekend, NYC Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement, “… we saw violent criminals targeting New York City police officers with bricks, brass knuckles and Molotov cocktails, for no reason other than the uniform we wear. It is inconceivable that Governor Cuomo would want to arm those extremists with confidential police personnel records, so that they bring their weapons to our front doors.”

The legislature is expected to be back in session next week.


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