Given by Michael Sisitzky

The New York Civil Liberties Union (“NYCLU”) respectfully submits the following testimony today in support of S.3695, which would repeal Section 50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law. The NYCLU, the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization with eight offices throughout the state and more than 180,000 members and supporters. The NYCLU’s mission is to promote and protect the fundamental rights, principles, and values embodied in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution and the New York Constitution.

Defending New Yorkers' right to be free from discriminatory and abusive policing is a core component of the NYCLU’s mission. Protecting this right requires robust systems for investigating abusive officers and holding them accountable. Fundamental to this effort is the ability to access basic information about how these systems operate and whether the outcomes they produce are just.

There is no greater legal barrier to this work than New York Civil Rights Law Section 50-a. Section 50-a cloaks the disciplinary records of police officers, correction officers, and firefighters in secrecy and has been used to shield evidence of law enforcement abuse from the public. The NYCLU expresses our full support for S.3695 and its companion bill in the Assembly, A.2513, which would repeal this antidemocratic provision and allow public access to the types of records most needed to guard against official misconduct by law enforcement.

Read the full testimony below.

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