NYCLU sues Buffalo Police for failure to release full slate of disciplinary records

Apr 21, 2021

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Buffalo Police Department, charging the unlawful denial of the organization’s requests for "a full slate of records related to police misconduct."

The NYCLU said those records must be disclosed following the repeal of 50-a nearly a year ago.

The 50-a statute in the state’s civil rights code had been used to shield police disciplinary records from the public since enacted in 1976. Its repeal came amid state and national protests following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

“Amid the nationwide reckoning with police brutality and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd, Daniel Prude and countless others, the Buffalo Police Department remains steadfast in ignoring requests for public records made on behalf of the constituents they have sworn to protect and serve,” said NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Lisa Laplace. “With the support and collaboration of our pro-bono partners, we will ensure no police department or corrections and community supervision department continues to hide the scale of their misconduct in New York State.”

The organization said it the organization submitted a FOIL request seeking a large array of public records specifically authorized to be disclosed, related to "disciplinary records, use of force, stops, civilian complaints, policies, investigative reports, diversity, trainings, and collective bargaining agreements." The request was part of a statewide police transparency campaign with 12 New York police departments and the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The NYCLU has also filed lawsuits against Rochester and Syracuse Police.