As the mass uprisings across the country continue, protestors and advocates are trying to hold public officials accountable for making real reforms. In New York state, Communities United for Police Reform and New Kings Democrats, along with over 50 other political groups, are pushing a campaign to repeal the 50-A law — a state law that prevents the public from being able to access officers’ disciplinary records. The statute is routinely used to keep the public from learning about police misconduct and failed disciplinary actions.
50-A has received an increasing amount of scrutiny since 2014, when high-profile incidents of police violence like the killing of Eric Garner gained national attention. During that time, the NYPD repeatedly cited 50-A in its refusal to disclose the disciplinary history of Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who choked Garner to death.
“It’s problematic since the NYC Police Commissioner has a substantial amount of discretion as to when officers are disciplined for misconduct and the severity of that discipline. 50-A means the public can’t hold the police department as a whole accountable,” Caitlin Kawaguchi, Communications Director for the New Kings Democrats told Refinery29. “Repealing 50-A is part of the Safer NY Act, a larger package of bills to increase police transparency and accountability that we’re advocating for as partners of Communities United for Police Reform.”
However, New York state Senator Kevin Parker and assembly member Robert Carroll have co-sponsored the bill to repeal 50-A, stating that the time for police transparency is now. As of Friday, June 5, constituents in New York have sent over 100,000 emails, made over 20,000 phone calls, and spoken out constantly on social media to urge public officials to repeal 50-A, according to Communities United for Police Reform. On June 2, Senator Brad Hoylman tweeted that his office had received nearly 2,000 emails from constituents demanding that 50-A be repealed on that day alone. The following day, Senator Liz Krueger tweeted, “My office has never received so many emails supporting a bill in such a short period of time as we have for #Repeal50A over the last two days.”