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Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton vowed to increase law enforcement transparency levels in the wake of growing tensions between police and citizens, but the newest NYPD policy appears to be doing just the opposite.
According to an exclusive report by the New York Daily News, the NYPD has implemented a new policy that will no longer allow the public to access details about disciplinary actions handed down to police officers. News of the decision comes at quite a peculiar time, given that multiple police forces across the country, including the NYPD, have claimed to be dedicated to doing whatever it takes to improve relations with residents and provide skeptical citizens with a better understanding of how law enforcement operates.
Eliminating public knowledge of what consequences police officers face after failing to adhere to proper protocol also fuels the argument that police accountability is a diminishing — or altogether non-existent — practice within the police community.
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When questioned about what prompted the decision, NYPD Deputy Chief and police spokesperson Edward Mullen claimed someone in the department’s legal division had suddenly realized that the department had been providing the public with information that it should not have. The seemingly contradicting decision also comes after de Blasio previously recommended city agencies face fines for failing to accommodate Freedom of Information Law requests, while also stating that “agencies should be required to file monthly reports to the public advocate and City Council.”
New York Civil Liberties Union associate legal director Christopher Dunn described the abrupt change in NYPD practices as “a troubling example of the NYPD becoming more secret and thus less accountable.”