Contact: Hannah Ross (774) 279-7732

Communities United for Police Reform Celebrates Intro of NY Legislation to End Police Secrecy

New York, NY (June 7, 2020) – Today, Communities United for Police Reform, the unprecedented campaign uniting New York’s advocacy organizations to end NYPD violence and imagine a future of safety without relying on the police, celebrated the introduction of state legislation that will end police secrecy and fully repeal 50-a.

The #Repeal50a bill (S8496/A10611) comes after four years of organizing and is only possible because of the commitment and organizing of CPR’s dozens of member and partner organizations, groups from across the five boroughs who united to end discriminatory policing and violence in New York - as well as groups in CPR's Safer New York Act coalition, including groups from across New York State. CPR started eight years ago to end the NYPD’s racist and violent policing, including its stop-and-frisk regime and will keep working until this bill passes and the day comes when New Yorkers live in communities where they do not have to fear police violence.

This legislation will fully repeal 50-a, which has made New York State the worst in the nation in terms of hiding law enforcement misconduct and discipline. 50-a is routinely used by those in power to shield police misconduct and failed police disciplinary processes from public view. A repeal of 50-a will provide much needed transparency on police misconduct and discipline in New York State, and help address the systemic lack of accountability for officers who engage in misconduct.

The #Repeal50a bill also includes two positive changes related to law enforcement misconduct in the public officers section of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL):

  • Creates privacy protection for survivors of police violence, complainants, witnesses, and family members of those who have been killed or brutalized in relation to their personal contact information (e.g. address, telephone, email) and medical records . This makes the privacy protection of personal contact information and medical records for survivors of police violence, complainants, witnesses, family members of those who have been killed and brutalized equal to protection the law provides to officers.
    • In spite of what police unions and police departments have falsely claimed for years, the goal of repealing 50-a has never been to make addresses or phone numbers of police publicly available through release of police misconduct and discipline records.
    • In fact, separate from the 50-a statute, FOIL already provides police departments with the option of redacting that information, separate from the 50-a statute -- and police departments routinely redact this information in their responses to records requests.
    • However, the way police departments respond to FOIL requests has been inconsistent re protecting the personal privacy of survivors, complainants, witnesses and family members of those killed or brutalized. The #Repeal50a bill changes this to require law enforcement redact this personal privacy information for survivors, complainants, witnesses and family members of those who have been killed or brutalized.
  • Makes it harder for police depts to hide information about relevant administrative misconduct and discipline that is currently permitted to be redacted in FOIL. 
    • This second change to the public officers section of FOIL law shrinks the universe of administrative violations that law enforcement agencies are permitted to redact in FOIL requests to a very narrow definition of technical infractions that are solely related to the enforcement of administrative departmental rules that (a) do not involve interactions with members of the public, (b) are not of public concern, and (c) are not otherwise connected to a such person’s investigative, enforcement, training, supervision, or reporting responsibilities.  
    • The #Repeal50a bill makes clear that no matter how a dept classifies a particular misconduct act, it would not be permitted to redact if it involves interactions with members of the public, are of public concern, or are connected to policing responsibilities or training. (Under FOIL currently, agencies routinely redact this type of information)

Members of CPR’s movement are available for comment to talk about the legislation, and will keep putting the pressure on until this bill is passed and until no one has to fear the police. 



About Communities United for Police Reform

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.

Topics: Repeal 50-A