NYPD Disciplinary Files May Be Made Public, Court Rules

Top line

In a major victory for advocates of criminal justice reform, an appeals court ruled on Tuesday that New York Police Department disciplinary records can be made public after a lawsuit filed by labor unions. the order sought to block their publication.


A group of police and firefighters unions filed a lawsuit last year to prevent the release of NYPD files, arguing it could endanger officers’ lives and put their job prospects at risk.

In a unanimous decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges rejected this argument, saying that “many other states at least partially make similar misconduct records available to the public without any evidence of an increase. resulting from danger to the police “.

Hank Sheinkopf, spokesperson for the unions, said they would continue to “fight to protect the safety of our members and due process rights” and said the groups were considering their options for redress.

The ruling is a victory for civil rights activists who argue that protecting disciplinary records prevents the public from holding officers to account.

Key context

Until last year, law enforcement disciplinary records were protected from public view under a law passed in the 1970s. The law, known as 50-a, was repealed by state lawmakers last year amid the unrest following the death of George Floyd. After the law was repealed, Mayor Bill de Blasio de Blasio announced a plan to create a public, searchable database of NYPD disciplinary records. The coalition of unions filed a lawsuit to block their release soon after.

Crucial quote

“Now we can go even further to restore accountability and confidence in the disciplinary process. Good riddance at 50-A. We look forward to releasing this data and will seek clarification from the court as to when these cases can be released. »De Blasio said in a declaration.

What is the watch for

de Blasio said the city would release the data after officials obtained “clarification from the court as to when these files can be released.”

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Harold Shirley

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