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Law Enforcement Disciplinary Records

Law Enforcement Disciplinary Records

On June 12, 2020, New York State repealed Civil Rights Law 50-a and amended Public Officers Law 86, 87, and 89 regarding public access to law enforcement disciplinary records. NYSDA supported this long-needed reform, as noted in an item in the June 15, 2020, edition of News Picks from NYSDA Staff. The full text of the bill appears below.

 

Articles

Times Union, Transparency official: "Unfounded" cop complaints can be withheld (July 29, 2020) 

New York Law Journal, US Judge Refuses to Block Publication of Police Discipline Database (July 28, 2020)

The Gothamist, Newly Released Data Shows 1 Out Of Every 9 NYPD Officers Has A Confirmed Record Of Misconduct (July 28, 2020)

The Daily Gazette, Side with citizens on release of police disciplinary records (July 28, 2020)

ProPublica, We're Publishing Thousands of Police Discipline Records That New York Kept Secret for Decades (July 26, 2020)

The Buffalo News, City of Buffalo blocked from releasing portions of police disciplinary records (July 24, 2020)

Observer-Dispatch, Police disciplinary files still hard to get across New York (July 23, 2020)

Observer-Dispatch, Utica to publish personnel records of police officers (July 17, 2020)

Livingston County News, Sheriffs unveil legislative proposals to protect police (July 16, 2020)

Daily News (New York), Cop 'data dump' Fight to halt release of 'unproven' allegations (July 16, 2020)

Democrat & Chronicle, Judge blocks NYC from releasing some police discipline records for now (July 16, 2020)

Daily News (New York), Cops, fire, corrections unions sue de Blasio administration over release of disciplinary records (July 15, 2020)

Daily Freeman, Kingston police commission formally adopts accountability legislation (July 15, 2020)

Syracuse.com, Syracuse won’t commit to posting police disciplinary records online, despite proof it can be done (July 14, 2020)

Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester police disciplinary records will be made available to public in online database (July 7, 2020)

Gothamist, Now That Police Disciplinary Records are Public, How Can New Yorkers See Them? (June 26, 2020)

NY1.com, DeBlasio Announces Changes to NYPD Disciplinary Records Release  (June 18, 2020)

Utica Observer Dispatch, Utica to publish personnel records of current police officers (June 17, 2020)

Albany Times Union, Cuomo Signs Sweeping Police Reforms Into Law (June 12, 2020)

Harris Beach, PLLC, Repeal of Civil Rights Law 50-a Makes Police Disciplinary Records Public through FOIL  (June 12, 2020)

 

MuckRock's Freedom of Information Law Project

MuckRock, New York repealed Section 50-a last week. Now it's time to get the records. (June 16, 2020)

MuckRock, New York Officer Misconduct and Disciplinary Materials: Requests in response to the repeal of Section 50-a

ProPublica: The NYPD Files
After New York state repealed a law that kept police disciplinary records secret, ProPublica sought records from the civilian board that investigates complaints by the public about New York City police officers. The board provided us with the closed cases of every active-duty police officer who had at least one substantiated allegation against them. The records span decades, from September 1985 to January 2020. We have created a database of complaints that can be searched by name or browsed by precinct or nature of the allegations.

Other Projects

CAPstat: "This is a demonstration project and does not represent the universe of data of police misconduct in New York City. It represents data from three sources: payroll information through NYC's Open Data Portal and FOIL; BuzzFeed's 2018 publication of disciplinary summaries from 2011-2015; and federal lawsuits filed in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York from January 2015-June 2018."

 

Defense Resources

Center For Appellate Litigation, Issues to Develop, July 2020

 

Other Resources

New York State Association of Counties webinar, Understanding State Law Reforms: What Does the 50-a Repeal Mean for Your County Government? (July 15, 2020)

New York's Freedom of Information Law

New York Department of State, Committee on Open Government

Committee on Open Government, FOIL AO 19775 (July 27, 2020)

Law Governing Disclosure of Law Enforcement Disciplinary Records

Repeal of Civil Rights Law 50-a: L 2020, ch 96 (effective June 12, 2020)

 

    The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section 1. Section 50-a of the civil rights law is REPEALED.
     2    §  2.  Section 86 of the public officers law is amended by adding four
     3  new subdivisions 6, 7, 8 and 9 to read as follows:
     4    6. "Law enforcement disciplinary records" means any record created  in
     5  furtherance of a law enforcement disciplinary proceeding, including, but
     6  not limited to:
     7    (a) the complaints, allegations, and charges against an employee;
     8    (b) the name of the employee complained of or charged;
     9    (c) the transcript of any disciplinary trial or hearing, including any
    10  exhibits introduced at such trial or hearing;
    11    (d) the disposition of any disciplinary proceeding; and
    12    (e) the final written opinion or memorandum supporting the disposition
    13  and  discipline imposed including the agency's complete factual findings
    14  and its analysis of  the  conduct  and  appropriate  discipline  of  the
    15  covered employee.
    16    7. "Law enforcement disciplinary proceeding" means the commencement of
    17  any  investigation  and  any  subsequent  hearing or disciplinary action
    18  conducted by a law enforcement agency.
    19    8. "Law enforcement agency" means a police agency or department of the
    20  state or any political subdivision  thereof,  including  authorities  or
    21  agencies  maintaining  police  forces  of  individuals defined as police
    22  officers in section 1.20 of the  criminal  procedure  law,  a  sheriff's
    23  department,  the  department of corrections and community supervision, a
    24  local department of correction, a local  probation  department,  a  fire
    25  department,   or  force  of  individuals  employed  as  firefighters  or
    26  firefighter/paramedics.

 

     1    9. "Technical infraction" means a minor rule  violation  by  a  person
     2  employed  by  a  law  enforcement agency as defined in this section as a
     3  police officer, peace officer, or firefighter or  firefighter/paramedic,
     4  solely  related  to the enforcement of administrative departmental rules
     5  that (a) do not involve interactions with members of the public, (b) are
     6  not  of  public  concern,  and  (c)  are not otherwise connected to such
     7  person's investigative, enforcement, training, supervision, or reporting
     8  responsibilities.
     9    § 3. Section 87 of the public officers law is amended  by  adding  two
    10  new subdivisions 4-a and 4-b to read as follows:
    11    4-a. A law enforcement agency responding to a request for law enforce-
    12  ment disciplinary records as defined in section eighty-six of this arti-
    13  cle  shall  redact any portion of such record containing the information
    14  specified in subdivision two-b of section eighty-nine  of  this  article
    15  prior to disclosing such record under this article.
    16    4-b. A law enforcement agency responding to a request for law enforce-
    17  ment  disciplinary  records,  as  defined  in section eighty-six of this
    18  article, may redact any portion of such record containing  the  informa-
    19  tion specified in subdivision two-c of section eighty-nine of this arti-
    20  cle prior to disclosing such record under this article.
    21    §  4.  Section  89 of the public officers law is amended by adding two
    22  new subdivisions 2-b and 2-c to read as follows:
    23    2-b. For records that constitute law enforcement disciplinary  records
    24  as  defined  in subdivision six of section eighty-six of this article, a
    25  law enforcement agency shall redact the following information from  such
    26  records prior to disclosing such records under this article:
    27    (a)  items involving the medical history of a person employed by a law
    28  enforcement agency as defined in section eighty-six of this article as a
    29  police officer, peace officer, or firefighter or  firefighter/paramedic,
    30  not including records obtained during the course of an agency's investi-
    31  gation  of such person's misconduct that are relevant to the disposition
    32  of such investigation;
    33    (b) the home addresses,  personal  telephone  numbers,  personal  cell
    34  phone  numbers,  personal e-mail addresses of a person employed by a law
    35  enforcement agency as defined in section eighty-six of this article as a
    36  police officer, peace officer, or firefighter or  firefighter/paramedic,
    37  or  a  family member of such a person, a complainant or any other person
    38  named in a law enforcement disciplinary record,  except  where  required
    39  pursuant  to article fourteen of the civil service law, or in accordance
    40  with subdivision four of section two hundred eight of the civil  service
    41  law,  or as otherwise required by law. This paragraph shall not prohibit
    42  other provisions  of  law  regarding  work-related,  publicly  available
    43  information such as title, salary, and dates of employment;
    44    (c) any social security numbers; or
    45    (d)  disclosure  of  the use of an employee assistance program, mental
    46  health service, or  substance  abuse  assistance  service  by  a  person
    47  employed by a law enforcement agency as defined in section eighty-six of
    48  this  article  as  a  police  officer,  peace officer, or firefighter or
    49  firefighter/paramedic, unless such use is mandated by a law  enforcement
    50  disciplinary proceeding that may otherwise be disclosed pursuant to this
    51  article.
    52    2-c.   For  records  that  constitute  "law  enforcement  disciplinary
    53  records" as defined in subdivision six of  section  eighty-six  of  this
    54  article, a law enforcement agency may redact records pertaining to tech-
    55  nical  infractions  as defined in subdivision nine of section eighty-six
    56  of this article prior to disclosing such records under this article.

 

     1    § 5. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

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