The Facts About the Politically Driven Campaign to Repeal "50-A"
What is 50-A?
50-a is a section of the New York State Civil Rights Law that deems the "personnel records" of Police Officers, Firefighters and Correction Officers "confidential and not subject to inspection or review" without the Officer's permission or a Court Order. It was passed in the 1970s both to protect the personal information of officers who testified in court and to prevent "harassment" by criminal defense attorneys.
Who Wants it Repealed?
A coalition of activists and so-called "progressive" politicians has pursued 50-a reform in earnest since 2014, with more state legislators and city councilmembers announcing their support each year. Bills to repeal 50-a have been championed by police reform organizations, including New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York, and legal organizations including the New York City Bar Association, Legal Aid and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Why Do They Want it Repealed?
Over the past five years, criminal justice activists along with inmate activists have exploited the high-profile deaths of civilians in police custody in an attempt to demonize police officers and correction officers, seemingly for political gain.
Correction and Police Unions Have Led the Fight Against Repealing 50-A.
Our unions, along with our brothers and sisters in other law enforcement unions, have led a vigorous legislative battle to protect our personnel records and defend our civil rights. Through public testimony before local and state legislative committees, filing lawsuits, and lobbying individual lawmakers, we have argued that a repeal of 50-A is a violation of our civil rights and endangers our members and their families by potentially having our personal information accessible to the public. Because of these efforts we were successful in stalling any legislative effort to repeal 50-A.
Our Message to New York State Legislators:
Transparency Must Cut Both Ways!
Our unions believe that if state legislators are truly interested in transparency and accountability for all, then they should immediately make their own personnel records, as public officers, fully accessible to the public for further review and scrutiny. These records should include any accusations of any kind made against a state office holder, as well as their staffs, including the transcripts of all protected Ethics Hearings etc. Anything short of this would clearly demonstrate pure hypocrisy, which is completely unacceptable to us and to our members. We look forward to hearing from state legislators about their commitment to ensure that transparency cuts both ways as far as personnel records are concerned.
We strongly urge each of our Members to immediately reach out to your local State Representatives and tell them to protect OUR Civil Rights as Law Enforcement Officers and to oppose the Repeal ofNYS Civil Rights Law 50a.
Our safety and Civil Rights matter!!