The union, the Police Benevolent Association, had argued camera footage is considered a personnel record and should be kept secret — citing a state civil rights law known as 50a — unless a judge rules otherwise.
But a mid-level appeals court in Manhattan disagreed.
While it acknowledged the PBA’s “valid concerns” about how the recordings could threaten police officers’ safety and invade their privacy, the court said ruling in the union’s favor could lead to a less transparent police department.
The panel said it is “tasked with considering the record’s general nature and use, not solely whether it may be contemplated for use in a performance evaluation.”
“Otherwise,’’ the decision reads, “that could sweep into the purview of 50-a many police records that are an expected or required part of investigations or performance evaluations, such as arrest reports, stop reports, summonses and accident reports, which clearly are not in the nature of personnel records so as to be covered by 50-a.”
NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill celebrated the appellate panel’s ruling.
“This ruling is an important step forward for transparency and affirms what the NYPD believes — not only is the public entitled to this information, but this footage overwhelmingly shows just how brave, skilled and dedicated our cops are every single day in the service of the people of New York City,” O’Neill said in a statement.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said the union might appeal.