NEW YORK CITY - Today at a press conference, Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would create an online database with the disciplinary records of all NYPD officers. In response, the NYCLU issued the following statement from Executive Director, Donna Lieberman:
“Lifting the veil of secrecy that has hidden police discipline from public scrutiny for way too long would be an important change that should help make the NYPD more accountable to the New Yorkers they are sworn to protect. While we appreciate the Mayor’s announcement today, we cannot hail this as the sea change we need because we still need much more information on the specifics of this proposal. It is essential that this database contain comprehensive information on police records and complaints, not just cases where charges have already been brought or where trials are pending. Making police disciplinary records publicly available is an important and necessary step, but past experience makes us wary of the potential for half-measures that fail to address the real problem.
“It took four years after the killing of Eric Garner for the city to even allow charges against the officer who killed him to move forward. Information about officers currently on the job with long misconduct histories is critical to public safety, and omitting this information from such a database would perpetuate the current culture that keeps the public in the dark about the scale of police abuse in New York City.
“A public database is just one piece of what we need to fundamentally change the nature of policing in New York City. Attorneys, journalists, and New Yorkers impacted by police violence should not have to endure the bureaucratic slow-walk of the FOIL process to get information that will bring justice and keep people safe from officers known for repeated misconduct. The NYCLU will continue to press for transformational change in policing in New York - change that will require coming to terms with racial bias, and redirecting significant portions of the NYPD’s bloated budget to community reinvestment and public health based solutions to public health problems."