Battle continues over release of police disciplinary records in New York

August 18, 2020
Kala Rama

NEW YORK — Police unions fought Tuesday to block the public release of officer disciplinary records in New York.

Lawmakers enacted a state transparency law in the wake of protests and George Floyd’s Minneapolis death at the hands of police. In July, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order, blocking the records from being released. Reform advocates and police unions have spent weeks fighting the issue out in courts.

Lawyers for the police unions argued they don't want the transparency law; they said it makes policing less safe for officers and hurts their reputations.

First Deputy Public Advocate Nick Smith stressed the importance of public disciplinary records.

"It's critical that we have transparency when it comes to our police," Smith said. "The Administration has been shielding from the public records of officers who engage in misconduct."

Hawa Bah, whose son was killed by NYPD officers in 2012, said she believes that if police were more transparent back then, her son would still be alive.

"I lost my last baby when I was begging and pleading, saying he didn’t do nothing wrong," she said.

Judge Katherine Polk Failla had decided to remove the temporary restraining order preventing the release of disciplinary records, which would allow the release of records, but then a stay was issued.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard arguments Tuesday regarding the decision. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is also hearing arguments in the police unions' lawsuit against New York City.

Judge Failla adjourned court for the day after three hours of testimony. She said she hopes to make a decision by the end of the week.

Topics: Repeal 50-A