New York Post
March 4, 2006

FILE COPS' CASE IN 'WIN' COLUMN

By SAMUEL MAULL, AP

March 4, 2006—A Manhattan judge has ordered NYPD officials to let investigators from the Port Authority see personnel files of officers trying to get higher-paying jobs on the PA police force.

State Supreme Court Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam said yesterday that city cops could see their own personnel files and PA police officials could review those files along with the officers at NYPD Headquarters.

Abdus-Salaam issued a similar temporary order on Feb. 9. Yesterday's ruling would make the order permanent unless it is overturned by a higher court.

City lawyers acknowledged that until June 2003, the NYPD let other law-enforcement agencies review the officers' files if the agencies were considering them for jobs.

They said the NYPD changed the policy and now provides only an "abstract," a kind of summary that the Port Authority has said was insufficient. The NYPD commissioner, the city's lawyers said, should be allowed to implement any policy he thinks is appropriate.

Abdus-Salaam said NYPD officials "have not offered any rational basis for applying their policy even under circumstances where the policy effectively prevents NYPD officers from seeking other, more gainful employment."

The judge said the police officers would likely be able to show that the pol icy, as currently ap plied, is "arbitrary and capricious" and therefore improper.

She said they have also shown they are likely to suffer irrepa rable harm.

The judge ruled in favor of 35 NYPD officers who complained they passed a written test for PA jobs but were being dropped from consideration because the NYPD would not let PA investigators review their files.

The petition names 35 officers, but their lawyer, Richard Steer, said about 150 had applied for PA jobs. He said they passed the 2002 written test and were chosen to undergo the rest of the selection process.

PA police officials had said they would not hire the officers unless they could review their personnel files, including disciplinary records, Steer said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, issued a statement in which he accused the NYPD of a "blatant attempt" to try to keep his union members from jobs where they will earn $30,000 more a year.

"This decision, which is rooted firmly in law and common sense, should send a message to the NYPD that this is a bad policy that they should rescind immediately and permanently abandon for the future," Lynch said.

Cindy Switzer, the city's lawyer in this case, issued a statement saying, "We strongly believe the Police Department's policy is appropriate, and we intend to appeal the court's ruling."