#Gov. Cuomo supports push to make police disciplinary files public

#Gov. Cuomo supports push to make police disciplinary files public

June 8, 2020 | 3:11pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday defended the push to approve a state law to release disciplinary files of police officers — saying cops should be treated the same as other government workers whose records are open to public inspection.

Cuomo said Monday he and the Legislature will be “just reversing an exemption” that shields the disciplinary records of police officers under investigation for misconduct.

The powerful police unions in New York for years blocked action in Albany on such legislation — but that was before the massive protests and outrage over the the police brutality case in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died as a cop kept his knee pinned to his neck while in custody.

“It’s just fairness and equity across the board,” said Cuomo, noting that teachers and other public employees disciplinary records are publicly accessible.

He said the criminal justice package that he will sign into law after passing the Legislature later this week will include a ban on chokeholds, making it a crime to file false police reports based on race following the Amy Cooper scandal in Central Park, and codifying cases where the state attorney general investigates a suspect’s death in police custody. The governor five years ago approved an executive order for the state attorney general to pursue such cases.

“The protesters are basically right…People are saying enough is enough. Bring reforms to the criminal justice system, bring reform to policing,” the governor said during his coronavirus press briefing at his Manhattan office.

Asked why he didn’t change the 50-A law in the past, Cuomo repeated that his office issued a legal opinion advising New York City and other local governments that they could release personnel records of an officer under investigation

“Do I feel 50-A is a straw man for local governments? Ok, strike it down as a straw man,” he said.

He said this a moment in history where police and criminal justice reforms can take place.

“Now is the time,” Cuomo said. “Carpe momentum.”

State legislative leaders said they will move quickly on the police accountability bills.

“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,” said state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins.

“The legislation that will be passed over the coming days will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that brutality, racism, and unjustified killings will not be tolerated,” she said.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal People Stokes (D-Buffalo) said the accountability measures don’t mean lawmakers are “anti-police.”

“We are anti-bad police. We understand the job of law enforcement is not easy. But I submit to you being black and brown in this country is not easy,” she said.


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