New York Civil Rights Law (50-A)

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To:       Council President Michael Galime                 

  Members of the Common Council                 

  City Clerk Melissa Sciortino    

 

From:   Mayor Robert Palmieri    

 

Date:     June 17, 2020

 

Re:        Mayor’s Message to the Common Council    

 

Last week Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation repealing a section of New York Civil Rights Law (50-A) which prevented the disclosure of law enforcement personnel records.

 

With the repeal of 50-A, personnel records of law enforcement employees are now subject to public disclosure with some legal exceptions.

 

My Administration and Utica Police Department (UPD) recognize that transparency and substantive engagement are critical for police legitimacy and acceptance in the eyes of the community it serves.  

 

After discussions with Police Chief Mark Williams, Deputy Chief Ed Noonan, leadership of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the City’s Corporation Counsel, I have decided to begin the process of posting the personnel records of UPD employees on the city’s website (the only information that won’t be posted is information that cannot legally be disclosed).

 

Police Chief Mark Williams and Deputy Chief Ed Noonan will be the first two members of UPD to have their personnel records disclosed.  Both records will be posted on the city website by Monday June 22nd, and the website will be updated weekly.

 

It is important the public understands there are tens of thousands of documents that must be reviewed and it will take a substantial amount of time before the personnel records of all UPD members are posted.

 

In February, the City’s Access and Inclusion Committee held a Solutions Summit which brought the public and law enforcement together to promote a substantive dialogue and build trust.  The decision to post UPD personnel records is a positive step in building that trust. 

 

On the broader policy perspective, there are over 500 police departments in New York State, and UPD is one of only a few police agencies (22%) that is state accredited.

 

Accreditation is a progressive and contemporary way of helping police agencies evaluate and improve their overall performance.  Accreditation also provides formal recognition that a police agency meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field and demonstrates a commitment to implementing best practices and policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.

 

While UPD has earned this distinction, we are continuously training our officers so they are applying leading industry standards, tactics and policing policies. 

 

In addition, UPD was at the forefront in enacting the very policy reforms the public is now calling on police departments across the country to implement. 

 

Our Police Department was one of the first in New York State to utilize body worn camera’s, and with today’s announcement, Utica remains at the forefront in instituting community-based, transparent policing by becoming one of the first Police Departments in New York State to post the personnel records of its Officers. 

 

I’m proud of our Police Department and the great work they do in keeping our residents safe.  I commend Chief Williams and Deputy Chief Noonan for their leadership and professionalism. 

 

My Administration and UPD personnel will continue to engage with the community to build bridges and foster even stronger relationships.