The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) fully supports and applauds the bill repealing Civil Rights Law 50-a (CRL 50-a) to allow for the public disclosure of the disciplinary records of public safety employees, including law enforcement personnel.
WBASNY and its members appreciate those in law enforcement who place themselves at risk to serve and protect our citizens. WBASNY is an organization whose mission includes the promotion of the fair and equal administration of justice. These goals are not mutually exclusive.
Since its adoption in 1976, CRL 50-a has been used to shield public safety employees from the type of scrutiny that keeps such employees accountable to the communities they serve. In criminal cases, the statute has been used to bar defense attorneys’ access to information concerning a public safety employee’s prior misconduct, which may speak to the employee’s credibility. Greater accessibility to these records also would allow prosecutors to determine early on whether to dismiss cases against citizens or reduce charges. At the same time, the repeal would continue to shield public safety employees’ personal, medical, and contact data from public view.
WBASNY and its members recognize that the vast majority of those working as public safety employees seek to promote the welfare and safety of our communities. We also believe that the repeal of CRL 50-a will contribute to a positive change in policing as we know it and will help to prevent racial injustices. WBASNY supports the repeal of CRL 50-a as an example of meaningful reform that ensures that all of our citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity, are treated with dignity.