In a widely unprecedented move, the District Attorney’s office in the Bronx is releasing secret records concerning information on police officers that they apparently don’t trust.
And now members of the NYPD are finding themselves thrown in the public spotlight without a chance to defend themselves.
The rare move came about after New York radio station WNYC requested that the records be made public in light of the Freedom of Information Act.
According to a report from the Gothamist, the ‘evidence’ against the officers comes in the form of articles from the media, as well as findings from judges who found the officers’ testimony to be untruthful.
The Bronx D.A. turned over 11 pages of documents to WNYC. The documents have a ton of redactions due to privacy restrictions of the Freedom of Information Act, but nevertheless, employees within the radio station were able to pin down the identity of some of the officers in question.
One of the officers named in the database, who we won’t identify here because we believe in due process, had his credibility called into question over the matter of a search that turned up a gun.
A search of a vehicle’s car rendered the seizure of an unlicensed revolver. But the defense said that the officer’s body cam video didn’t exactly match his statements, saying the car couldn’t have smelled like marijuana because none was found and that the search was illegal.
“I believe that the officers lied under oath on the stand when they said that they smelled marijuana and that that is what occasioned the search of the car,” a judge said.
So they threw out the gun charge.
The Bronx DA’s office became the first in NYC to release its internal records about dishonest cops. The NYCLU says, "This revelation suggests there may be large numbers of police officers that prosecutors know are not reliable.” https://t.co/AdjZo7JNyA
— Gothamist (@Gothamist) October 8, 2019
Now, that officer is being considered ‘untrustworthy’ in a court of law. He argues that the judge was hell-bent on killing the gun charge, and found any way she could to do so.
With these documents now going public, this officer will now be seen as a non-credible witness across the city… all based on an opinion.
The list of so-called ‘bad apples’ released by the Bronx D.A.’s office includes 39 other officers. 21 of those names were redacted due to the court sealing case files.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
The privacy of the officers is now also under fire, with legal representatives calling for the entire list to be made public without redactions.
“Without names, our systems of checks and balances fails and yet again police evade accountability,” said Cynthia Conti-Cook, a staff attorney with Legal Aid.
Legal Aid is New York’s largest domain of public defenders.
Earlier this year, Manhattan D.A. Andrew Stengel said that all of the information should be released, regardless of the impact it would have on current investigations and trials.
“Stengel called for the Bronx D.A. to release all files it has on officers with questionable credibility, even if such a release could throw scores of ongoing prosecutions and past convictions into question,” said the Gothamist.
Conti-Cook is pushing for more of these kinds of records to be pushed into the public limelight.
“The release of these records is another important step towards transparency,” she said. “But it is not the last step. We must continue to demand more public access to internal police misconduct information to allow the public to hold police and the administrations that protect them accountable.”
And of course, a legal director within the ACLU sided with the public smearing of the involved officers, who are not exactly being given due process, but instead are being subjected to the media’s portrayal and people’s opinions.
“This revelation suggests there may be large numbers of police officers that prosecutors know are not reliable,” said Christopher Dunn. “This is exactly the type of information the public must know about. If they don’t, it just calls our entire system into doubt.”
Can we really trust these findings? After all, if you want to know what the media thinks about police, just go to Google and type the word in. You’ll find yourself overrun with articles about bad cops, killer officers and a system of oppression.
In our view, the officers that are being thrown under the bus deserve a chance to defend themselves before having their reputations torn apart in the public eye.
This is America. Due process exists. Let’s do our best to remember that.