Repeal 50-a: Make NYPD Accountable to the Public

Repeal 50-a: Make NYPD Accountable to the Public

June 2, 2020
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This petition made change with 4,954 supporters!

Why this petition matters

Started by Stephanie McNamara

Join me in making the New York Police Department more accountable to the citizens that it is obligated to protect. Support the repeal of 50-a and close the policy loophole that allows for New York's law enforcement to hide officer transgressions, police misconduct, and/or failed police disciplinary processes.

New York is ranked among the worst states in the nation with respect to police transparency. We must create transparency and accountability and cannot allow for misconduct to be shielded from the public view. Too many New Yorkers suffer from police violence, disproportionately effecting POC, and we cannot allow this to continue. Black Lives Matter.

The following statement is from Anthonine Pierre, spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform and Deputy Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center:

“The violence experienced by New Yorkers last night at the hands of police is unacceptable and it is not an isolated incident. Governor Cuomo has stated he is willing to sign a bill on the matter if it comes to his desk. We call on Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie to immediately reconvene the legislative session and pass Senator Bailey & Assemblyman O’Donnell’s bill to repeal 50-a. No modifications, tweaks or amendments are acceptable.  There is no excuse for New York to be the worst state in the country with respect to police misconduct and discipline transparency laws - in fact it puts Black and other New Yorkers of color in danger because abusive police and departments are able to hide police abuse behind 50-a. The repeal of 50-a is supported by a broad coalition including families who have lost loved ones to police, community organizations from across New York state, members of the press, faith leaders, and members of law enforcement."

As the law is written, and as it is currently enforced, 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law permits law enforcement officers to refuse disclosure of "personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion."

This exemption was adopted in 1976 by the Legislature in order to prevent criminal defense lawyers from using such records in cross examination of police witnesses during criminal prosecutions. According to the 2014 annual report by the State Committee on Open Government to the Governor and the State Legislature, "this narrow exemption has been expanded in the courts to allow police departments to withhold from the public virtually any record that contains any information that could conceivably be used to evaluate the performance of a police officer."

Join me in taking a first step in dismantling a policy that undermines our trust in those obligated to protect us.

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

Photo: Christopher Penler/Shutterstock


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