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Nov 17 2020

Appeals court puts New York’s repeal of 50-a on hold

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has put a temporary hold on the repeal of a policy that prevents police disciplinary records from being disclosed. The court made the decision after hearing arguments from police unions that claimed making the records public would be dangerous.

A section of the state civil rights law, 50-a bars the release of disciplinary records of police officers. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation repealing the law on June 12. The decision came after calls for transparency amid months of nationwide protests over police brutality. Since then, police unions have been fighting the repeal in court to prevent disciplinary records being made public.

Supporters of the repeal of 50-a argue that transparency will enhance systemic police accountability. However, there are also many that oppose the release of police records. They claim it would endanger law enforcement officers by revealing their personal information and putting them at risk of retaliatory complaints from defendants.

The law already allows the release of police records for relevant legal proceedings if a judge issues a court order. For now, it remains to be seen how the debate over the 50-a repeal plays out in court.