Contact: Dan Morris 917-952-8920

CPR to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill: Real Police Transparency and Accountability Require Full Repeal of 50-a

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) released the following statement responding to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill’s op-ed in the New York Daily News today:

“Nothing will build real police transparency and accountability until there is a full repeal of 50-a, the state’s police secrecy law. If the NYPD and Commissioner O’Neill are serious about increasing police transparency and accountability as part of an effort to expand public safety, the best path forward is full repeal of 50-a. Contrary to what NYPD Commissioner O’Neill claims in his op-ed today, simply reforming 50-a isn’t a real solution. A reformed 50-a that merely tinkers around the edges of the current law would still be ripe for exploitation by the NYPD and by future legal cases intent on shielding police officers’ misconduct from the public and protecting secrecy surrounding disciplinary records. It’s time for the NYPD to acknowledge that the only way to prevent misuse and abuse of 50-a is to get rid of this harmful and unnecessary law,” said Milan Taylor, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR).

“In recent years, the NYPD and de Blasio administration have used 50-a to block the release of an ever-expanding category of information related to police misconduct.  Their top talking point has been fear-mongering that's both misleading and false, claiming that repeal of 50-a would risk officer safety. Existing law, which won't be impacted by a repeal of 50-a, already provides protections against release of personal addresses and other personal information about police officers,” said Taylor.

“We agree that more information about police disciplinary cases should available online. But it’s absolutely wrong and unacceptable to limit the universe of those cases and make information available only after a disciplinary process is complete. It can take years before a disciplinary outcome is reached – if there ever is an outcome, as we have seen in the high- profile police killings of Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, and more recently, Eric Garner. O’Neill’s proposal could limit even knowledge about whether an officer is charged until after a disciplinary outcome has been reached. And it seems his proposal would only apply to officers who have been formally charged by the NYPD or Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). It could still be possible to hide information where there is a misconduct complaint but no disciplinary charge has been brought by the NYPD - as in the case of Delrawn Small,” said Taylor.

“Bottom line: the public has a right to know about police officers who commit misconduct and whether or how they have faced disciplinary consequences for their harmful actions. That right to know is especially important for New Yorkers who have been brutalized by police officers, subject to gender-based violence, harassed, intimidated, and for families whose loved ones have been killed by police,” said Taylor.



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 policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.

CPR brings 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 unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.

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Topics: Repeal 50-A Safer NY Act