Today BuzzFeed News is making public one of the New York Police Department’s most fiercely guarded secrets: a database of disciplinary findings for about 1,800 NYPD employees who faced departmental misconduct charges between 2011 and 2015.
This information has been closely guarded for years, and completely off-limits since 2016, when the NYPD removed them from public view, citing a controversial state law that shields police officers’ misconduct. As a result, New Yorkers who are charged with a crime have no simple way to find out if the officer who arrested them has a misconduct record that might affect their credibility with a jury. Officers who have faced disciplinary charges have limited information about how their punishment compares with those of other officers in similar situations. And taxpayers as a whole have no way to assess how their police department is policing its own.
Many other large departments, in states such as Illinois and Florida, routinely make this information available. “The public has a right to know what our public officials are doing, and this is especially true with our police officers, who have the power to shoot to kill, use force, and deprive people of their liberty through stop or arrest,” said Samuel Walker, a national policing expert.