ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would sign a bill requiring local officials to release police disciplinary records.
The law is often used by local governments to shield disclosure.
But Cuomo said not only are local officials leaning on an inaccurate interpretation of what’s known as Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, but he would sign a bill immediately if the state Legislature voted to repeal the statute.
“I would sign a bill today that reforms 50-a,” Cuomo said. “I would sign it today. So the Legislature can now convene by Zoom or however they do it. Pass the bill, I will sign it today. I can’t be clearer or more direct than that.”
Cuomo was asked about the controversial statute after violent clashes between NYPD and demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd roiled the Bronx and Lower Manhattan overnight Saturday, leaving “countless” NYPD officers and over 200 arrested, ABC 7 New York reported.
Footage shows protestors throwing Molotov cocktails, damaging police vehicles and at least one NYPD officer pushing a woman to the ground.
The state Committee on Open Government has criticized the law, calling it “overly broad.”
But law enforcement has pushed back against releasing police records, contending the release of confidential information would put police at the risk of retaliation.
New York City Police Department PBA President Patrick J. Lynch pointed at “violent criminals targeting New York City police officers with bricks, brass knuckles and Molotov cocktails for no other reason than the uniform we wear.”
“It is inconceivable that Gov. Cuomo would want to arm those extremists with confidential police personnel records so that they bring their weapons to our front doors,” Lynch said in a statement on Saturday. “We cannot protect New York if politicians won’t even provide the bare minimum protections for us and our families.”
Cuomo on Saturday also tasked Attorney General Letitia James with conducting a review of policies and procedures used during the melee and issuing a public report within 30 days.