NEW YORK - On Monday afternoon, the Democratic majorities in both the state Senate and the Assembly discussed coming back into session this month, and repealing the controversial law known as 50-a.
"I have been carrying this bill for a couple of years, but what is different this year is that we have a Democratic Majority in both houses now. We now have 45 sponsors in the Assembly and I am confident we will pass it sooner rather than later," said State Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell.
50-a is a state law that has been used to prevent the public release of the disciplinary records of law enforcement officials, including members of the NYPD. The de Blasio administration’s reading of the law has been a source of dispute for years.
But in light of violent protests in the city following the death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis, many are now calling for 50-a to finally be repealed.
“My bill is the full repeal Of 50-a. It makes full disciplinary records public. Bit it would also make certain public information about that officer protected, but available to the public through the state’s FOIL law," said State Senator Jamaal Bailey.
While police unions oppose repealing 50-a, the idea has been embraced publicly the last few days by both the mayor and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“This will be one of the single most important things that we could do to increase trust between police and community. I've been very clear. We must also have legislation that protects the identities of police officers in their personal life, their home address. They deserve that protection, but discipline processes must be transparent," De Blasio said.
Governor Cuomo says he believes the law is being misinterpreted and doesn’t actually shield disciplinary records, but supports repealing it once and for all to increase transparency.
“If a police officer is being investigated, how is their disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer is being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this is a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? And by the way the disciplinary records can be used to exonerate”," Cuomo said.
The legislature could be back as soon as next week to pass a series of police reform bills, including the repeal of 50-a, even though technically speaking the legislative session for 2020 ends this week.