New York City Police officers’ misconduct records should be released immediately, argues a brief filed last week by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and Law for Black Lives.
The New York State Legislature passed the repeal of New York Civil Rights Law § 50-a over the summer in response to mass protests demanding greater police accountability in the wake of police killings against unarmed Black people. Section 50-a previously protected police officers who were investigated for potential misconduct from public exposure of their actions, further emboldening them to act with impunity, especially in Black and Latinx communities. New York City’s police unions are now attempting to block the Legislature’s repeal of 50-a.
The brief explains that full transparency of police misconduct is an essential component of police accountability. Black and Latinx communities have suffered physical injury and rights violations at the hands of police, but for too long, 50-a shielded critical police misconduct information from the public. Public disclosure of unsubstantiated and non-final claims is a crucial part of this transparency to understand the full scope of police misconduct and scrutinize the documented problems with misconduct investigations of officers.
“Police misconduct endures in large part because officers are not held accountable for their actions,” said John Fowler, counsel with the Criminal Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The repeal of 50-a was a critical step in the right direction. We cannot let the resistance of the police unions in New York City continue to undermine the will of the people. Police accountability and transparency are necessary after nearly 50 years of the public being left in the dark.”
You can read the full brief here.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.