The Legal Aid Society argued the disciplinary summaries were not “personnel records” per se. A judge disagreed.
A Manhattan judge has rejected a request Friday filed by Legal Aid lawyers asking that the city release NYPD disciplinary records.
State Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis rejected the Legal Aid Society’s demand for access to summaries of disciplinary outcomes, which have been public information for the past 40 years.
The city objected to the request under state Civil Rights Law section 50-A, which orders that police disciplinary records should be kept confidential out of concern for a given officer’s safety.
The NYPD had routinely provided the summaries on clipboards at the press office in 1 Police Plaza for decades, but suddenly did an about face when the society initially asked for the records in May 2016.
Legal Aid lawyer Tina Luongo argued that the summaries were not “personnel records” per se.
Under the state Freedom of Information Law, she said mere summaries are not actual records, and if the summaries are kept confidential, the NYPD will be able to prevent the public from seeing all disciplinary outcomes.
Lobis wrote that she was hamstrung by a prior judge’s ruling in the case that sided with the city.
That judge “found that by its nature this information carries the potential for exploitation.”
Bizarrely, the prior judge found that the city could still withhold the records despite the fact they had been released for such a long period in the past.
"While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we maintain that the city’s current interpretation of 50-A is overly broad and inconsistent with over 40 years of practice,” the lawyers group said in a statement.
“As such, we are considering all future options including appeal. As long as issues of police brutality continue to plague communities of color, New Yorkers need to know that the NYPD is taking the necessary steps to hold officers accountable and to change long-standing Department culture.”