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#Fine to reform laws on police discipline — if you have laws on rioting, looting, too

Fine to reform laws on police discipline — if you have laws on rioting, looting, too

June 3, 2020 | 8:02pm

It looks like the Legislature will respond to the George Floyd killing by rushing to repeal 50-a, a New York statute that protects the privacy of police disciplinary records.

“People have a right to know who is policing their community,” says the repeal bill’s author, state Sen. Jamaal Bailey (D-Bx.).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says he’d sign anything: “Repeal, reform, whatever they send me,” to show his outrage over Floyd. Of course, he’s also pretended the law doesn’t overly shield police records, so it’s hard to take Cuomo seriously here.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio is hoping for a compromise that includes a replacement statute that “allows for greater transparency” while being “clear about protecting the lives of officers.” As Police Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch warns, pure repeal would hand confidential info to “extremists” who would “bring their weapons to our front doors.”

Some greater disclosure is plainly in the public interest: As is, 50-a does too much to protect the worst cops. For over 40 years, it has been interpreted to shield too many records, blocking the public from finding out the names of disciplined officers, how many times they’ve been disciplined and the rules or laws broken.

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Equally important: Lawmakers ought to respond not just to the Floyd killing in Minnesota, but to what’s happening on the city’s streets now: Any package of reforms ought to include stiffer bail and sentencing guidelines for looting and attacks on police officers during civil disorder.

Protect the public on all fronts, please.

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