ALBANY — State legislators could vote Tuesday to fully repeal a law that keeps police discipline records secret, officials said Sunday.

The Senate and Assembly formally introduced a series of police and criminal justice bills this weekend after a week of negotiations. Introducing bills signals they’ve settled any differences and could have the houses vote soon.

The proposals include establishing a right to record police activity and mandating state troopers wear body-worn cameras while on patrol.

The highest-profile measure could be the repealing of a statute called “50-A,” a civil rights law which, enacted in 1976, shields police disciplinary records from the public.

Police unions blocked repeal efforts for years. But now, legislators — prompted by the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests — vowed to take action and have been haggling whether to make public all misconduct complaints or limit it to substantiated ones. In the end, they opted for the broader approach.

The 50-A proposal introduced late Saturday would allow the disclosure of any “complaints, allegations and charges” against an officer. A very narrow exception would be for “technical infractions” that don’t involve interactions with the public.

“This bill fully repeals 50-A. Police agency records will be treated like any other agency,” said Assemb. Danny O’Donnell (D-Manattan), one of the sponsors of the bill.
He said police records would be obtainable under Freedom of Information Law requests like other government agencies.
“The idea is there will be a path to get the information. Currently, there is no path,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a monumental change.”

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Lawmakers are considering voting on the 50-A repeal on Tuesday, a source said.

After state legislators said they’d act, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, said he’d sign “any” 50-A bill they sent to him.

Another measure legislators are considering is mandating state troopers to wear body-worn cameras while on patrol.

Troopers are the largest police agency in New York state that patrol without body-worn cameras. According to Associated Press, New York also is one of five states that don’t require dashboard cameras.

“The purpose of the program is to increase accountability and evidence for law enforcement and the residents of the state,” Assemb. Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn) and Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) wrote in the proposed legislation.

Committees in the Assembly and Senate are expected to review and advance criminal-justice and police bills beginning Monday. The full houses would vote later.

Among the other proposals would be one to establish a “right to record police activity,” ban the use of chokeholds, make permanent a unit of the attorney general’s office to investigate deadly police-civilian incidents and create a “9-1-1 bias reporting” law.

The latter stemmed from the now-infamous internet video of a white woman in Manhattan’s Central Park calling 911 to claim a black man was threatening her, even though all he said to her was that her dog needed to be on a leash.

Cuomo has backed the idea of creating the law, as well as the chokehold ban.

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