New York Police Department Still Concealing Most Misconduct Data—Activists Charge

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NYPD Commissioner Shea. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Police Department released a dashboard that includes limited NYPD officer misconduct and discipline and continues to conceal critical information that can be made public under the repeal of 50-a. The database, the contents of which include only information about incidents where the NYPD commissioner has imposed a final guilty finding in administrative charges, does not include what is believed to be the vast majority of misconduct and discipline records, including for racial and other discriminatory profiling, most police sexual abuse and other misconduct by officers.

Last summer, New York City police unions—along with corrections and fire unions—sued to stop the City of New York from releasing officer misconduct and discipline records to the public following the June 2020 repeal of the police secrecy law 50-a. The scope of discipline data made public today is so narrow that it could have been made public while the litigation was ongoing over the past eight months—even before the New York State District Court and the Second Circuit Court dismissed the police unions’ claims.

"This dashboard isn't transparency, it's a shameful bait-and-switch and slap in the face to the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who rallied and marched in defense of Black lives and to repeal 50a," Lumumba Bandele, spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), said. "It represents the lengths Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD will go to hide police violence and promote fairy tales. They're counting on the complexity of the NYPD discipline system to hide the fact that in spite of delaying publication for almost a year, the main discipline information they're releasing is information that was never contested in the police union litigation and could have been released while the litigation was ongoing.”

CPR intervened in the lawsuit because the organization couldn't trust the same administration that had expanded 50-a to defend the repeal, Bandele said. 

“And even now, after a decisive victory in the appeals court against the police unions' baseless claims, the de Blasio administration is still doing the police unions' bidding and hiding police misconduct information that the court made clear can be public,” Bandele added. “This isn't transparency, it's a PR tool for the NYPD and a gift to racist and toxic police unions. The de Blasio administration prioritized going back decades to include commendations and arrests by cops while including only a sliver of misconduct and discipline information from a handful of years, all to shield abusive officers and the NYPD from transparency. They're intentionally excluding thousands of racial and other discriminatory profiling complaints and other records that would show a more complete picture of police violence. The criteria they're using makes the dashboard close to useless for looking up cases of killings, sexual assault and other misconduct by cops because those cases almost never get to an administrative charge or trial. This is NYPD propaganda, not police transparency or accountability. De Blasio and the NYPD should stop the games and publish all police misconduct and discipline information in the spirit of 50a's repeal."

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