The New York State Senate has voted to repeal a 44-year-old law that helped protect police officers’ disciplinary records from being released to the public.
A variety of social causes have taken place in the wake of global protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd and police brutality. Thousands are petitioning for KKK to be labeled a terrorist organization, millions are calling for the defunding of police, and now the New York Senate has voted to put an end to a 1976 provision called 50-A of New York’s Civil Rights Law. The law was created to protect officers who testified in court, The Rolling Stone reports.
“All personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion, under the control of any police agency or department of the state … shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without the express written consent of such police officer, firefighter, firefighter/paramedic, correction officer, or peace officer …. except as may be mandated by lawful court order,” the provision reads.
However, criminal justice activists, public defenders, and other law officials have highlighted how the law can prevent police from being held accountable for poor behavior or misconduct they performed while on the job. “Black New Yorkers, like all residents of this state, deserve to know that their rights, and lives, are valued and protected by our justice system. The Senate is stepping up to advance reforms that will empower New Yorkers, improve transparency, and help save lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. The vote ended in a 40-22 vote with Republicans all voting against the legislation, the outlet reports.
The bill is a part of a variety of police reform bills the state senate plans to look at this week. Governor Cuomo says he will sign off on the law as soon as it hits his desk.