A federal appeals court on Tuesday affirmed a lower court ruling allowing New York officials to release police discipline records that had been kept secret for decades, reports ProPublica. A federal judge temporarily barred city officials from releasing the records. However, ProPublica, which had previously obtained a portion of the information through a public records request and was not a part of the case, published thousands of the records while the case was being considered. The unions have argued, in part, that records of unproven allegations would harm officers’ chances of finding other jobs, even if the accusations were labeled as unproven. The unions also asserted that publishing the information would put officers in danger.
This week, the appeals court affirmed the decision, saying the unions hadn’t offered convincing evidence of those outcomes in states where the records are public. It’s not clear when further disciplinary records will be released. ProPublica and others have used the records in stories revealing that officers were promoted to the department’s highest ranks despite troubling complaint records; that the police commissioner exercises unchecked power in downgrading or dismissing discipline and overturning the department’s own misconduct rulings; and that officers continue to use chokeholds while facing few consequences.