Advocates want transparency within police departments


There have been cases across the country detailing police misconduct, but rarely is the information on how these officers are dealt with released.

Advocates and lawmakers are calling on Governor Cuomo to expand transparency within police departments. 

NewsChannel 34’s Morgan McKay explains this law and the push to have it repealed. 

Bob: The people who have the most control or power over the lives of the public are the least accountable. And we think that should be reversed. 

Bob Freeman, the director of the state’s committee on open government, Incoming Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, 85 organizations and 16 family members of New Yorkers killed by cops, wrote a letter to the Governor asking him to repeal 50-a. They are saying that the public deserves to know when an officer disobeys the law and how the department in turn responds. 

Bob: We don’t know when the discipline has been imposed, we don’t know the nature of discipline that might have been imposed. We just don’t know. 

While many advocates are pushing for the full repeal of 50-a, Freeman says that the law at least needs to be reformed. He explains that while some information might need to be kept private, even releasing records with redacted information is better than nothing. 

Bob: No the Court of Appeals says the entirety of the records is out of bounds so we have no capacity to find out anything about the disciplinary process involving police and correctional officers.  

Local police unions and the union for correctional officers were not able to comment at this time. But the original intent of 50-a was to protect an officer’s privacy and prevent unverifiable complaints from getting out. 

However, with Democrats in both houses, reforming 50-a could be possible this next year. I reached out to the Governor’s office for comment and they said they “would be open to considering changes to the law.”

New York is one of three states in the nation that specifically protect police officers’ records without judicial approval.

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