SBA Rebuttal to Disciplinary Panel’s FindingFebruary 11, 2019 - 4 minutes read
SERGEANTS BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION
POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF NEW YORK
35 WORTH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10013
(212) 226-2180 | FAX (212) 431-4280
Dear Fellow Sergeant,
I am writing about a subject of great importance to you and your family. Late last week, Commissioner James O’Neill announced that he and the Mayor want to change §50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law to allow the immediate posting of police officer disciplinary records on the internet. That change would permit anyone wanting to harm individual officers or the police in general to create a social media firestorm and threaten officer safety by re-posting records out of context and without regard for truth or justice.
The Commissioner’s call for “reform” is just his latest attack on rank and file police officers. Earlier this month he released a so-called “independent panel report” on police discipline written by three politically-connected lawyers who defend large corporations and rich individuals. The panel swept the Commissioner’s mismanagement of discipline processes and white-shirt abuse under the rug and instead recommended repeal of §50-a as though unrestricted access to officer personnel records was the answer to all questions of so-called “police misconduct.” The report was a travesty and an embarrassment to a City, where in days past—unfortunately before this administration—City Hall and NYPD management had the courage and the integrity to fight for public and police safety against enemies of fair and effective law enforcement.
What is particularly shocking is that the Mayor and the Commissioner caved to anti-police groups just after the Court of Appeals rejected the efforts of the New York Civil Liberties Union to obtain disciplinary records under the Freedom of Information Act. In accepting the arguments of the Department’s lawyers, the Court refused to allow public disclosure even if records were redacted to remove all identifying information. In other words, the Commissioner turned his back on his own lawyers and, without any legal justification, grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory just to pander to opponents of fair and effective policing. His betrayal also proves what we expected all along: Appointing the panel was just a political stunt. He never wanted the panel to provide an independent analysis because he knew that any really objective report would lay responsibility for the failings and abuse of discipline in the laps of his cronies and other white-shirts.
The SBA is taking a high-profile position against this attack on effective law enforcement and on officer safety. Click here to see a Rebuttal to the Commissioner’s so-called “independent report” and to his proposal to expose officers to vigilante vilification and violence.
Our Rebuttal includes an Appendix that thoroughly analyzes the Court of Appeals’ decision and exposes the fallacies of arguments to repeal §50-a. Please take the time to read these lengthy but very important attachments. After you do so, please contact me, any SBA Board member, or your delegate with questions or comments. I will keep you informed as we continue to represent your interests in Albany and in the media.
Finally, let me make one thing very clear. Neither the SBA nor any responsible officer condones misconduct or wants “bad cops” in the NYPD. What we do want, and demand, is due process, fairness, and protection for our families against vilification and criminal violence. The Commissioner’s “reform” must be seen for what it is: Political pandering and an immoral attempt to shift attention from his own failings as Commissioner to the officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens of New York.