Despite objections from the police unions, New York released records of the wrongdoing of more than 83,000 police officers
Last August, The Root reported that the New York Civil Liberties Union released data showing more than 323,000 complaints of misconduct against more than 80,000 New York police officers, shortly after police unions failed to block disclosure of the records in a federal appeals court . Well, it turns out the Big Apple is not done with releasing police records for the benefit of the civil communities that the police are designed to protect and serve. In fact, earlier this month the disciplinary records of more than 83,000 state police officers were released to the public.
The New York Civil Liberties Union publishes more than 323,000 allegations of wrongdoing against the NYPD
Insider reports that the New York Civilian Complaint Review Board released a new searchable database this month allowing people to view the records of tens of thousands of police officers. Shortly afterwards, the NYPD also made its own database available.
Jonathan Simon, professor of criminal law at the University of California at Berkeley, sat down for an interview with Insider to talk about the benefits of data dumps like this system. “
Simon said one of the main reasons people fail to bring legal claims when they feel their rights have been violated by the police is because they doubt their experience. They wonder if what happened could have been their fault or if they are overreacting.
If a person who believes they have experienced wrongdoing can look online that an officer has previously done the same, “this would reinforce their initial sense of wrongdoing in a way that would hopefully enable them to take action”, said Simon.
The public records could also help prevent a law enforcement agency from hiring someone with a history of misconduct.
If a police officer is fired, including for serious misconduct, they can often get a job with another law enforcement agency, known as the “wandering officer phenomenon,” according to a study by the Yale Law Journal published last year.
Simon said in some of these cases that the new agency may not be aware of the officer’s wrongdoing history as it is often not publicly available. Using public disciplinary files, Simon said, “It will be easier for the police to avoid hiring officers with a track record that has not been disclosed to them.”
The story goes on
One can only wonder why cops, who tend to live by the creed “If you haven’t done anything wrong, don’t worry,” never want to apply the same logic to themselves. Allowing the public to see the records of officers in their communities should not be a thing the police want to fight, especially if they are serious about weeding out the rotten “bad apples” we hear so much about over and over again .
If civilians ‘criminal records are made available to the public, why shouldn’t police officers’ disciplinary records?
However, the database released by the CCRB excludes “open allegations, successfully brokered allegations” or “allegations relating to the NYPD or other investigative units,” reports Insider.
Exposing records of wrongdoing is just a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done to bring real police reform to America – but it’s a step in the right direction. There are currently around a dozen US states that have published police disciplinary records. It is a policy that needs to be adopted across the country.