Today on the filing deadline, dozens of organizations and elected officials submitted amicus briefs to support the ordering of New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to release the summary misconduct records of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner. In filing the briefs, reform leaders opposed the city’s continued efforts to block a FOIL request by appealing a state court decision, which rejected the administration’s assertion of state law 50-a as the determining rationale for prohibited its release.
The NYPD’s recent decision to stop making disciplinary actions against its officers available to the public, as it had previously done for decades, has come under scrutiny for concealing disciplinary actions against officers engaged in misconduct. The City’s appeal contradicts a court decisions rejecting state law 50-a’s application. State law 50-a allows disclosure of such information when mandated by court order as in the case of releasing CCRB summaries of Officer Pantaleo. Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“This action from the NYPD serves to show once again that we cannot trust the police to police themselves. Their interpretation of this law is much too strict and denies the public its right to information that it needs to effectively monitor potentially dangerous police behavior,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. “The NYPD needs to immediately restore its previous policy and provide information about CCRB complaints to reporters and to the public.”
“In order to truly repair police-community relations, it is going to be absolutely necessary that New Yorkers see evidence of officers being held accountable for acts of police brutality. While portions of an NYPD officer’s personal records should remain private, their disciplinary record must be made public to ensure that we can build up that trust again, or else we will never find that harmony that we so desperately need in our city,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.
“The Freedom of Information Law exists to promote transparency and openness within all agencies of government, and that must include the Police Department,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice-chair of the Progressive Caucus.
“Without transparency about past disciplinary records when the CCRB finds an officer has committed misconduct, how can there be any real accountability?” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Several studies have found that a small number of officers account for a high percentage of complaints and discipline. But if the NYPD can dismiss or downgrade the CCRB’s charges secretly, and the public never knows about patterns of repeat offenders, how can communities be asked to trust the system? That’s why we are deeply distressed by the NYPD’s recent decision to suddenly reverse course on a decades-old practice of transparency, and why we’re joining the call today to release records pertaining to complaints against Officer Daniel Pantaleo.”
“The NYPD should not be allowed to arbitrarily change their sharing guidelines, especially for unspecified reasons. I call on the legislature to expeditiously amend state law, to not allow the Department to shield from the public dispositions of officers that may have engaged in misconduct. The NYPD, like other agencies that serve the public, owe New Yorkers the highest level of transparency, especially given the lack of trust between many communities and the NYPD,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.
“The courts have ruled. Now it’s time to see these records so we can bring transparency and accountability to this crucial investigation. Our goal must be to move forward in an educated, fully-informed manner so that we can stop tragedies like the death of Eric Garner from repeating themselves,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “For that to happen, we need a full account of the circumstances leading up to his death. These documents will go a long way in creating a more informed public discourse, and I urge them to be released in accordance with court orders immediately.”
“We need transparency now more than ever. The public’s trust in law enforcement is at an all-time low, and moves that prevent vital information from being released to the public further erode that trust. It may not be easy for institutions to open themselves up to potential public scrutiny – but it is necessary. Without truth there can be no justice,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
IN THE NEWS
AMNY OpEd, NYPD’s discovery of 50-a
Washington Square News OpEd: Officer Discipline Records Need Transparency