Public Oversight Board Releases Thousands Of NYPD Disciplinary Records
from the at-long-last,-some-transparency dept
At long last, some more NYPD police misconduct records have been released. Last month, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused to block the release of these records, now publicly available thanks to the repeal of a state law that shielded these records from the public eye for more than 40 years.
A first batch of records was released before the matter was even settled. Records obtained by the NY-ACLU and ProPublica were released by ProPublica even as the Police Benevolent Association secured a restraining order blocking their release. Since neither of these entities were party to the lawsuit (the PBA was suing New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio), they weren’t subject to the court order.
The partial set of records published by ProPublica came from the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). The publication only included records for officers with at least one substantiated complaint against them. A much fuller set of data has now been released by the CCRB — a set that dates back more than 20 years and covers tens of thousands of NYPD officers.
The CCRB’s database includes information on 34,811 active NYPD officers and 48,218 inactive officers, with complaints dating back to 2000. Details about each complaint are limited to the incident date, the type of complaint (force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or offensive language), a one-or-two-word description of the allegation, and whether the complaint was substantiated.
But this won’t be the final data dump on the NYPD. The department has its own internal set of disciplinary records which are subject to the same disclosure mandates as the CCRB’s tranche. This one covers information not available in the CCRB’s database — like officers whose claims were handled by the NYPD’s internal trial system.
Some of this could be posted as early as next week, but it will be an incomplete data set.
The first NYPD records release will detail discipline cases back to 2018. After that, [Assistant Chief] Pontillo said, more data will be added — for active cops who are disciplined without a trial, and for trials, going back to 2008, for both current and ex-cops.
The NYPD will also be releasing trial room decisions for both current and former officers.
The repealed law also grants public access to disciplinary records pertaining to fire department employees and corrections officers, but neither have offered a publication date. It actually appears they may try to litigate their way through it.
Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesperson for the coalition of unions that sued to block the release of the records, provided no specific indication whether or not they plan to take further legal action.
“We’re considering our options,” Sheinkopf told Gothamist.
Well, good luck with that. The Second Circuit opinion made it pretty clear they had no actionable argument against complying with public records law.
After years of secrecy — and months of stalling — the NYPD may finally join those who’ve already released department disciplinary records. Given its history of extreme recalcitrance when it comes to transparency, it’s no surprise it will be the last to produce these documents.