The state Senate on Tuesday repealed the law prohibiting the public release of police disciplinary records.
This is a good first step toward transparency in a world generally kept from the public eye, but there is still a long way to go. Gov. Andrew Cuomo must still sign the legislative package.
We have to ask ourselves how we got here. It took the shocking death of a black Minneapolis man and the global convulsions it caused to bring New York state to this point.
State senators passed the legislation Tuesday to repeal the law known as “50-a,” or the exemption under state Civil Rights Law permitting officials to refuse to disclose the disciplinary records of police officers accused of abuses. Over the last several days, Cuomo has said he would immediately sign any repeal or amendment to the law that reached his desk.
Five bills passed the state Legislature on Monday banning chokeholds, legalizing the filming of arrests made by police officers, made false race-based 911 reports a crime, requires law enforcement — on or off duty — to report any incident within six hours where they discharged a weapon in the vicinity of any people who could be hit, and the STAT Act, which will require courts to collect and publish demographic data based on race, ethnicity and age for all low-level offenses, including misdemeanors and violations. Police departments are required to submit annual arrest-related death reports to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, Legislature and governor.
Action by the state may not abolish systemic racism in the United States. Police misconduct won’t end with the passage of new laws and the repeal of an old, outdated measure. But they will make police more accountable and their behavior more transparent. They will bring police action and its aftermath out of the shadows and into the public light.