NEW YORK, NY – The outcome of disciplinary proceedings against police officers would be made public under a statewide proposal by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The de Blasio administration announced Friday that it plans to seek amendments to a section of the state’s Civil Rights Law.
Civil Rights Law Section 50-a currently protects records related to an officer’s performance as confidential. The only way to obtain the records is through a court order or with written consent from the officer involved, according to the mayor’s office.
De Blasio’s proposal would require police agencies to post the following online at the end of a disciplinary proceeding: the accused officer’s name; any charges; a transcript and exhibits used in the case; a summary of the trial judge’s decision; and the final determination of the police commissioner, who has final say on how cops are punished.
Earlier this year, de Blasio infuriated civil liberties groups and NYPD-accountability activists by reversing decades of city precedent and interpreting the law more restrictively than previous mayors.
In the past, the NYPD would routinely post promotion and demotion news and reveal the number of substantiated civilian complaints against an officer. Activists disagreed with the mayor that the longtime practice violated state law.
What de Blasio proposed Friday would apply only to formal, in-house trials against cops, not other methods of disciplining officers, and would include cases where an officer is cleared, according to his spokesman, Austin Finan.
De Blasio wants the change to apply to other professions covered by the secrecy law — first passed in 1976 for cops and later extended to firefighters, prison and jail guards, and others.
A 2013 investigation by Newsday found that the law has been key in hiding from the public misconduct or crimes committed by police on Long Island.