evidence that any officer was harassed as a result of a posting.[117] In Chicago, an advocacy group posted some 240,000 police disciplinary records online in a searchable database, and no increase in threats against officers or their families has been reported.[118] If New York is to strike the proper balance between privacy and transparency, concern for officer safety must be respected, but not exaggerated.


Until § 50–a is amended, the Department should interpret it as narrowly as possible consistent with the Court of Appeals’ ruling. Most obviously, the Department should resist efforts to include arrest reports, police body camera footage, and the like in the definition of personnel records to which § 50–a applies. An arrest report may be the subject of a disciplinary matter, but that does not convert it into a personnel record. And footage from a body camera is no more a “personnel record” than footage from a surveillance camera affixed to a pole in the street. Such footage may reveal police misconduct (or provide evidence that misconduct did not occur), but its principal purpose is not to evaluate an officer’s performance for continued employment or promotion.[119] If a police shooting were captured on a body camera and § 50–a were interpreted to prevent its disclosure, the public would be justified in decrying that outcome.


Section 50–a poses no impediment to the release of anonymized statistical data about disciplinary outcomes. At present, CCRB issues monthly, semi-annual, and annual reports that include these statistics. CCRB’s 2017 Annual Report, for example, states that “the DAO took some form of disciplinary action against 73% of the officers referred to it [and] [i]n cases where the NYPD pursued discipline, the most common form was Formalized Training (128, or 32%) followed by Command Discipline (108, or 27%).” CCRB’s reports also include tables that break down use of force allegations into categories

—“Chokehold,” “Flashlight as club,” “Gun as club,” “Handcuffs too tight,” “Nonlethal restraining device,” and “Pepper spray.” The specificity of such information helps inform the public about what is happening in the

[117] See Brief for Petitioner at 5-6, Luongo II, No. 160232/16 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017).

[118] See Jamie Kalven, Invisible Institute Relaunches the Citizens Police Data Project, The Intercept, (Aug. 16, 2018), https://theintercept.com/2018/08/16/invisible-institute-chicago-police-data/ (last visited Jan. 9, 2019) (“For decades, the city of Chicago, the police department, and the police unions argued that various horrible consequences would ensue if officer names were made public—officers would be targeted, their families harassed, the security of police operations undermined, etc. In the three years since we made the first limited release of police disciplinary information, nothing of that nature has been reported.”). Panel staff also interviewed Mr. Kalven and Kevin Graham, President of the Chicago Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, to confirm this assessment. One incident of threats in a high-profile case was reported by Mr. Graham, though, as he acknowledged, it is unclear whether the information made available through the Citizens Police Data Project played any role.

[119] Matter of Capital Newspapers Div. of the Hearst Corp. v. City of Albany, 15 N.Y.3d 759, 761 (2010) (holding that firearms tags used by the Albany Police Department to track the use of department guns were not “personnel records” under the meaning of the statute); see also Matter of Green v. Annucci, 59 Misc. 3d 452, 455 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017) (warning that under a broad reading of § 50–a, a FOIL respondent could cloak any record in secrecy by merely placing it into a personnel file).