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NYS Bar Association calls for repeal of law that protects violent police

June 10, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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A day after it announced that it announced the creation of a racial justice task force, the NYS Bar Association’s executive committee approved repealing Civil Rights Law 50-A, which would allow for the public disclosure of law enforcement personnel disciplinary records.

“Disclosing all records pertaining to police misconduct and discipline will help stem the tide of repeated and senseless incidents of police brutality that are all too frequently aimed at people of color and remain a scourge on our nation,” said NYSBA President Scott Karson.

Repealing 50-A was one of 10 measures that will be voted on by the State Legislature after many advocates insisted it be included in any policing reform.

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Lawmakers are considering reform following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a member of the Minneapolis police department. Since then, protests have broken out in all 50 states and Brooklyn.

Repealing the law appears to have broad support in both the Assembly and the Senate, and even Mayor Bill de Blasio has backed it after being one of its major opponents for six years.

The proposed legislation would make complaints, allegations and charges that are brought against police officers public; would release the name of the employee complained of or charged; would release transcripts of any disciplinary trial or hearing, including evidence used at a trial; and would reveal the disposition of any disciplinary proceeding and the final written opinion or memorandum in support of the discipline handed out.

All personal information, like an officer’s home address or medical records, would be redacted from released records.

Other bills included in recent legislation would create an Office of Special Investigation to assist the Attorney General in investigating police-related killings; clarify the right to video record police officers; ban police chokeholds; establish a Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office; make it illegal to call the police on any protected class for no reason; mandate body camera use among police; and require officers to report within six hours after discharging their weapon where a person could have been struck whether on or off duty.

“We urge both the governor and the Legislature to continue the momentum to pass sweeping reforms that will bring about meaningful systemic changes that eliminate racial disparities in our criminal justice system,” Karson said.


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