The Conservative Party opposes repealing Section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law, S.8596 (Bailey)/A.10611 (O’Donnell).
Every member of the law enforcement community takes an oath to protect and serve the public by upholding the United States Constitution and enforcing law within their jurisdiction. When that oath is blatantly disregarded, the offending member must face the consequences of their unlawful actions. This we can agree on.
However, repealing Section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law, S.8596 (Bailey)/A.10611 (O’Donnell), would do nothing to change that fact. A 50-a repeal would remove protections that have kept law enforcement officers (and their families) safe from disgruntled and potentially dangerous bad actors since 1976.
Section 50-a keeps most personnel records confidential. However, a judge retains the authority to release these records when all interested parties have had opportunity to be heard and finds they are relevant and material to the case at hand. Repealing Section 50-a would allow all complaints, even unsubstantiated complaints and those not fully investigated, to be made public. Subjecting law enforcement personnel to such public review diminishes the rights of law enforcement officers.
Repealing 50-a is not the right response to the unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd. Those responsible must be held accountable, but those who do their jobs responsibly should not be burdened by the knowledge that unsubstantiated complaints will be made public and potentially endanger themselves or their families. The thin blue line is thin enough, the Legislature should not make it any thinner.