NEW YORK – The New York Civil Liberties Union, with pro bono counsel from Latham & Watkins LLP, filed a lawsuit against the New York State Police for unlawfully denying the NYCLU’s requests for records related to police misconduct authorized to be disclosed following the 2020 repeal of 50-a.
The NYCLU submitted a FOIL request seeking public records specifically authorized to be disclosed under state FOIL after the repeal of Civil Rights Law § 50-a, a statute that had been used for decades to bar the disclosure of police misconduct. The New York State Police, comprised of over 5000 state troopers across 11 regional offices, has denied requests for all records of misconduct, and it denied the NYCLU’s administrative appeal filed in February 2022.
“The New York State Police cannot withhold disciplinary records to which the public is legally entitled after the repeal of 50-a. Police transparency is now codified into law, and police departments can no longer argue that they must be trusted to police themselves, immune from public scrutiny,” said Bobby Hodgson, supervising attorney at the NYCLU. “Amid the nationwide reckoning with police brutality and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd, Daniel Prude, Monica Goods and countless others, the New York State Police remains steadfast in denying requests for public records made on behalf of the constituents they have sworn to protect and serve. New Yorkers have waited long enough—they have a right to know the extent of law enforcement misconduct that occurs in their communities.”
The proceeding is part of a statewide police transparency campaign in which the NYCLU and pro bono counsel filed state FOIL requests with twelve police departments statewide and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. As part of this campaign, the NYCLU has filed lawsuits against police departments in Rochester, Syracuse, Freeport, Troy, Buffalo, and Nassau County for withholding public records subject to state FOIL. Courts statewide have rejected the vast majority of efforts to thwart accountability and disclosure following the repeal of 50-a, including in Schenectady following the NYCLU’s intervention.
You can find case materials here: https://www.nyclu.org/en/cases/nyclu-v-new-york-state-police