Personnel records of more than 35,000 active NYPD cops, including whether they were ever found guilty of misconduct by the department, were posted online Monday in compliance with state lawmakers’ move to make police files more accessible.
Also released were about three years’ worth of decisions from the NYPD’s trial room. Some 201 trial cases are now online, along with rulings by Police Commissioners Dermot Shea and his predecessor, James O’Neill, when they disagreed with the penalties imposed against guilty officers, sometimes deciding that more severe punishment was warranted.
The newly posted data came as a result of state lawmakers overturning Section 50-a of the state civil rights law last year. The law had prevented the release of police personnel records. A recent federal appeals court decision rejected an attempt by police and other city employee unions to halt the release of the materials.
Last week the Civilian Complaint Review Board released its own list of police officer files that showed disciplinary records of more than 80,000 present and inactive cops, noting whether they had substantiated or unsubstantiated complaints of misconduct. The CCRB in the main brings charges in the department trial room over allegations of improper use of force, discourtesy and offensive language.
The release Monday of the police records renewed a practice that had existed for decades but stopped when the NYPD determined that release of such documents violated Section 50-a. The decisions posted were the results of hearings for officers facing accusations in the past three years over everything from improper association with suspected criminals to striking a spouse, to the most serious accusation: using a banned chokehold.
Trial decisions often involve cases brought by the NYPD department advocate against cops. The latest documents also include cases initiated for trial by the CCRB. A sample of a year’s worth of decisions found that Shea often concurred with a guilty finding, including those cases brought by the CCRB. But the records also showed that when Shea disagreed with trial commissioner’s recommendation, it involved the penalty.
In one case, a female officer who made disparaging ethnic remarks was hit with the loss of 30 vacation days and a year’s probation by the trial commissioner. But Shea increased that penalty to a loss of 45 days and a year’s probation.
Last week department officials said that CCRB trials usually result in about half of the cops being found not guilty. A sample of the new records found a similar result.
While some claim the department doesn’t impose discipline in CCRB cases, the decisions show Shea in the past few months concurred with the agency recommendations on penalties for guilty findings, and in one case, increased it.
The New York Civil Liberties Union in a statement said the NYPD database “comes nowhere near close to including the full universe of misconduct.”