Legal Aid Cites Difficulty in Getting NYPD Disciplinary Records from CCRB; Transparency and Accountability Lacking
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

In a series on NYPD and the release of police disciplinary records, WNYC's Robert Lewis says that since the death of Eric Garner, the Civilian Complaint Review Board has stopped providing any information on police disciplinary records.

This summer, in response to a Legal Aid Society petition, State Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger ordered the City to release summary complaint information about Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the office who used a chokehold on Eric Garner. The City is appealing.

There is disappointment in the Administration's stance.

“What it makes you feel is that they don’t take accountability and transparency very seriously,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice at The Legal Aid Society “What it makes you feel is that they don’t take accountability and transparency very seriously,” said Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of criminal practice at the Legal Aid Society, which sued to get the Pantaleo records.




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"There was roughly a one year period from October 2013 to October 2014 where the [Civilian Complaint Review Board] was providing summary information in response to Freedom of Information requests," said WNYC's Robert Lewis. "They didn't say what the complaints were about or anything like that. It was bare bones. But then, not too long after the death of Eric Garner, at a time when people were calling for more police accountability, they stopped even that."

The chairman of the CCRB, Richard Emery, says a staff member made a mistake in interpreting the law. And he says the city's lawyers told them to stop releasing the summary information.

But a judge ruled this summer that such records aren’t automatically confidential. State Supreme Court Judge Alice Schlesinger ordered the city to release summary complaint information about Officer Daniel Pantaleo — the police officer caught on tape using a chokehold on Garner.

The city is appealing that decision. A statement from the Law Department says the city the decision “appears to be inconsistent with previous case law prohibiting disclosure, and our appeal seeks clarity and guidance from a higher court.”

And in court filings in another case, city attorneys argue the judge’s decision on the Pantaleo records was wrong.

Some advocates say they’re disappointed in the De Blasio administration’s stance.

“What it makes you feel is that they don’t take accountability and transparency very seriously,” said Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of criminal practice at the Legal Aid Society, which sued to get the Pantaleo records.

The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.