State Legislature Repeals 50-a Police Secrecy Law, With West Side Lawmakers Leading the Effort

State Senator Robert Jackson spoke in favor of the bill.

The New York state legislature has repealed Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, which allowed police to shield disciplinary records from the public.

The repeal was one of the key goals of the movement to reform policing in New York and Upper West Side lawmakers played a key part in making it happen. The law had been around for more than 40 years. The governor is expected to sign it.

“New Yorkers have spoken loud and clear over the past two weeks, providing a clarion call that now is the time to act,” said Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, who has been sponsoring the bill since 2016. “By passing the repeal of 50-a today, we allow the public, press, and the victims of misconduct and their families to find answers, and we give New Yorkers the tools to prevent further tragedies from happening.”

Other Upper West Side legislatures had been pushing for it too. State Senator Robert Jackson, a local legislator who led a march to repeal 50-a on Saturday, spoke about the bill on the senate floor. He read the names of people killed by police.

The secrecy law has kept the public in the dark about complaints against police officers. Activists say those complaints are often red flags that the public should know about. Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer whose chokehold led to the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014, had four substantiated abuse complaints against him, for instance.

The state legislature also voted to ban chokeholds, and is considering other bills meant to reform the police.

NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Bob Lamm says:

      Great news. Thanks to Assemblyman O’Donnell, Senator Jackson, and other legislators who made this happen. And to all the protesters and activists who pushed for these measures.

    2. Vote vote vote says:

      50A issue aside (seems like police could use more accountability indeed, it never hurts), I wish the same UWS lawmakers mentioned above sided with their constituency for once and reconsidered the awful bail reform they passed in 2019. Some patches and minor touch ups were passed recently but both O’Donnell and Linda Rosenthal opposed them! And, mind you, the tweaks do not go far enough to effectively undo the significant shift in incentives that they have provided criminals with. Thank God elections will soon be here. Time for UWSiders to choose more carefully who represents them, before we all rush to precinct community meetings and complain about recurring perps being on the loose (some homeless included – hello “Carl” from Broadway and 79th! Wonder whatever happened to his girlfriend Larissa who sent an elderly to the hospital after throwing a piece of wood at her for no apparent reason, yet was released the next day)

    3. Ben David says:

      Here is a wonderful example of politicians who are trying to outdo each other in their efforts to weaken and ultimately destroy our police. If only they cared so much about the rising crime rate (which happens to include black-on-black crime), narcotics sales in NYCHA buildings, and domestic abuse calls.

      • woodcider says:

        “”Black on black crime”… it’s called crime when you’re not trying to score racist points.
        When you can get a better repair history on a car than the abuse history of those who are charged with your protection, it only proves that our broken society cares more about property than people.

      • UWS Baroness says:

        Where are you getting your information from? Why don’t you try educating your self on the subject first before making off the wall comments. According a recent report NYPD Announces Citywide Crime Statistics for April 2020
        May 4, 2020.For the month of April 2020, major index crime in New York City saw an overall -28.5% decrease (5121 v. 7,162) when compared to the same period in 2019. Between April 1 and April 30, overall crime fell in every borough, within the transit system and across public housing. In that one-month period, there was a -26% decrease in the number of robberies (679 v. 913); a -32% decrease in felony assaults (1,130 v. 1,652); and a -52% decrease in grand larcenies (1,566 v. 3,250.) The City saw a -9.7% decrease in the number of shooting incidents for the month of April, (56 v. 62), driven by a -80% reduction in shooting incidents in April’s final week (9 v. 5).

        Police reform is necessity to keep crime down by supporting social service, community organizations and education.

    4. Lisa says:


    5. robert says:

      No 50A DID NOT keep them secret. All you needed to do was file a lawsuit showing a judicial/legal need for the info and/or have the records produced as evidence as part of and ongoing trail. I can’t wit till they get “doxed” and protestors start telling people where any officer lives, following his wife/kids? It has already happened when files have been 1legally distributed

      Pls notice everybody here is talking about “complaints against officer x,y or z” A huge amount of them are dismissed by CCRB, when the victim refuses to cooperate or even be a part of the investigation other than calling it in. Its the worst kept secret that among defense attorneys that they have defendants make a complaint so that they can mention it at trail, knowing that the CCRB is so backed up that they can say the have a “pending” case.
      Many of the settled case are when the cities law dept says the city will win in court but it will cost the city $$$$ to defend the officer, so they make an offer of on average 2,500.

      For everyone hyping 50A i guess they will immediately be making their personal records available for public search. If its the publics right to know about an officers medical history including any mental health issues, why not a politicians. That way the me to movement could see how had been sent to required sensitivity/diversity/sexual harassment retraining. Who settled a complaint of the forgoing with office resources?

      Before anybody starts opining her I’m in no way excusing what happened in MN, it was an act that was beyond the pale. But for all those saying don’t lump all the protesters with the lotters, don’t lump all the officers with one idiot in another sate.

    6. Lrahip says:

      Thanks to Danny O’Donnell for creating and seeing this bill all the way through to successfully passing it. Let’s hope it begins a new day in criminal justice.