RENSSELAER COUNTY – The New York Civil Liberties Union, with pro bono counsel from Latham & Watkins LLP, filed a lawsuit against the Troy Police Department for unlawfully denying the NYCLU’s requests for records related to police misconduct authorized to be disclosed following the repeal of 50-a.
The NYCLU submitted a FOIL request seeking a large array of public records specifically authorized to be disclosed under state FOIL after the repeal of 50-a, a statute of the state civil rights code that had been used for years to bar the disclosure of police misconduct. The Troy Police Department has responded to the request, which sought disclosable documents related to disciplinary records, use of force, stops, civilian complaints, policies, investigative reports, diversity, trainings, and collective bargaining agreements, by providing a small sample of documents that did not include any records related to police misconduct or discipline.
“Troy residents have the right to know the substance and volume of complaints made against their officers, and the Troy Police Department cannot remain steadfast in ignoring requests for misconduct records made on behalf of the constituents they have sworn to protect and serve,” said Melanie Trimble, capital region chapter director at the NYCLU. “No police department can shirk their responsibility to be transparent any longer. We will fight resistance to accountability wherever we see it and continue working to end the secrecy shrouding evidence of police misconduct across New York state.”
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, NYCLU has filed lawsuits against the Rochester Police Department, Syracuse Police Department Freeport Police Department, and the Buffalo Police Department 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 NYCLU intervention.
“The Troy Police Department cannot ignore the fact that 50-a was repealed, and police transparency is essential to police accountability,” said Bobby Hodgson, senior staff attorney at the NYCLU. “New Yorkers stood up, spoke out, and demanded change: the law is no longer on the side of police secrecy. We are taking action today to vindicate Troy residents’ right to complete information about the police misconduct that takes place in their communities.”
You can find case materials here: https://www.nyclu.org/en/cases/nyclu-v-troy-police-department