Reversing an initial ruling, a federal judge has cleared the way for a civil rights organization to provide the public with disciplinary records it obtained from New York City’s police watchdog agency, the Associated Press reports. Judge Katherine Polk Failla had halted the release of disciplinary records last week after unions sued to block Mayor Bill de Blasio from taking advantage of a recent change in state law to start posting misconduct complaints on a government website. New York Civil Liberties Union legal director Christopher Dunn said, “The database will reveal a wide swath of information about police misconduct at a moment when the nation is debating police accountability.”
Failla said it was impossible for her to reach back and prevent the release of records that the civil liberties group received before the unions filed their lawsuit on July 15. She faulted the unions for not suing sooner. Scores of disciplinary records have already reached public view since the repeal last month of a law that had kept them secret for decades. ProPublica on Sunday published a database containing complaint information for thousands of officers, while news outlets including AP have published stories based on newly public disciplinary documents. The rest of Failla’s temporary restraining order, halting the disclosure of more disciplinary records, is likely to remain at least until an Aug. 18 hearing.