How much do the average citizens of New York know about the police officers who are supposedly serving and protecting them? Not much, really.
Just recently, the New York Police Department (NYPD) finally publicly revealed aggregate data involving police misconduct over a period of two years -- but only after being pushed into doing so by repeated requests from a city councilman and an inquiry by the New York Daily News.
That's not exactly the type of forthcoming attitude that inspires confidence. The Deployment Law, which took effect on Oct. 1, 2016, legally requires the NYPD to file an annual report regarding the numbers of officers with misconduct allegations against them.
Lest anyone think that the black marks against an officer's record are unfair, the rule only applies when an officer has one of the following: two substantiated complaints involving misconduct, a record of excessive force within the last three years, a record of suspension in the last five years, or an arrest in the last ten years. A single incident or a wild allegation against an officer isn't enough to put their name on the list.
The NYPD issued its first report back in 2016, but it didn't follow up for any subsequent years until pushed -- hard -- to make the information public.
New York is one of only two states in the country that legally bars the public from gaining information about the disciplinary records of its officers. The antiquated law, which was passed in 1976, was supposed to keep defense attorneys from using unfounded accusations against officers to gain sympathy for their clients. Instead, it has turned into a shield behind which unscrupulous and abusive police officers can hide their misdeeds.
There's no doubt that police misconduct and brutality are an issue in this country -- and NYPD officers have far too many ways to ride under the public's radar when they misuse their authority. If you have been victimized by the police or a loved one has suffered abuse at police hands, find out more about your ability to fight back through legal means.