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Know Your Rights
Source: Spectrum News
Subject: Policing and Criminal Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Lawmakers To Take Up 50-a Repeal; Advocates Push For Full Repeal

A bill that would make it easier for police disciplinary records to be disclosed is scheduled to be taken up today by state lawmakers in the Legislature, repealing a measure known as 50-a that has long shielded those documents from being released.

      • What You Need to Know
      • Lawmakers are voting on a bill to repeal 50-a.
      • The measure has been long sought goal for criminal justice advocates.
      • Advocates are pressuring Long Island Demcorats for a full repeal.

The current law has long been in the sights of criminal justice reform advocates, who argue it allows cops with a history of brutality and wrongdoing to continue operating.

The repeal legisaltion is part of a package of bills lawmakers are considering over three days this week in Albany to overhaul police policy following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests around the country over police brutality.

“The past two weeks, New Yorkers have spoken loud and clear, demanding police reform and systemic changes to our justice system,” said Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsors the bill with Sen. Jamaal Bailey. “Critical to these efforts is a full repeal of 50-a, which for too long has protected law enforcement officials from accountability when they commit wrongdoing.”

There are some narrow exceptions for personal information, such as medical history, mental health and drug treatment and infractions that do not involve the public.

Still, repealing the law has been staunchly opposed by police unions in New York, who say it will unfairly tarnish officers.

Advocates from Make the Road New York, meanwhile, plan to travel to Long Island to the offices of a handful of Senate Democrats — Sens. Monica Martinez, John Brooks, and Kevin Thomas —  to push them to vote for the measure.

“As an Afro-Latino man on Long Island, I have seen time and again how the police commit acts of violence against Black and Brown people with impunity,” said Frank Sprouse-Guzmán, a member of the group. “We need 50a to be fully repealed, because this statute protects officers who commit crimes and abuse against community members. To achieve justice for our communities, we are calling on our Senators to vote today to fully repeal this secrecy law.”