Change law to let taxpayers know about police discipline

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Change law to let taxpayers know about police discipline


Since the deadly confrontations between police and civilians, communities have much greater expectations for transparency from our police departments.

As a Newsday investigation revealed, at least 200 officers in Nassau and Suffolk counties alone have been linked to misconduct, often quite serious, but who frequently have faced no significant discipline.

However, New York Civil Rights Law State law 50-a keeps personnel records of police officers secret, unless a judge approves their release. This law has been used to keep secret nearly every recording dealing with individual officers.

In New York, an officer’s misconduct on the job is shielded from public view. In at least 27 other states, such as Florida, Washington and Ohio, police misconduct records are open to the public.

We believe that most police officers are fair, honest and hardworking. However, the people have a right to know when police officers are accused of serious transgressions, and what investigations find.

There is no good reason why New York should be amongst the minority of states that keep such records secret.

A law that keeps such information from the public is a unfair and inconsistent with the policies of greater police reform undertaken nationwide. We need greater trust between communities and police, and this can be done by building bridges of communication.

We call on the New York State Legislature to repeal 50 -a.

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