Top NYPD and Civilian Complaint Review Board officials were finally allowed to weigh in Thursday on the law that keeps police personnel records from the public — a week after the mayor’s office prevented them from testifying over fear of a public dispute.
Both sides took unsurprising stances on Civil Rights Law 50-a during a hearing of the state Senate Committee on Codes in Albany — with the NYPD supporting an amendment to the law and the CCRB pushing for more substantive reforms and possibly full repeal.
NYPD Assistant Deputy Commissioner Oleg Chernyavsky said “the NYPD does not fear scrutiny,” but the department is concerned with potential officer harassment on the street and “in the courtroom based upon unsubstantiated” claims.
“Officers have seen protests at their homes and death threats to themselves — and their families — even before the fact of an incident are fully known,” Chernyavsky said, noting that personal information is “only a Google search away.”
CCRB Chairman Fred Davie said he personally supports a full rollback of 50-a — which shields internal records on cops, firefighters and corrections officers from release — but wouldn’t speak for the board.
The chairman — whose tempered testimony echoed his public statements over the weekend — noted there was a consensus among board members for some sort of reform but wanted to have a public discussion on the matter, leaving the door open for the board to vote to support repeal.
“Where we are limited in feeling public confidence is our inability to share important information about our investigations because of 50-a,” Davie said. “We are thwarted in our efforts to provide increased transparency in the disciplinary process.”
Both sides agreed that transparency should not affect anyone’s safety and welcomed further debate on the topic.
The NYPD and CCRB were both on the schedule to testify before lawmakers during the first day of hearings, but sources said the mayor’s office told both officials to skip the hearing to avoid putting a spotlight on the rift between the two groups.
A spokesperson for the CCRB said there were “some conversations” with the mayor’s office over Davie’s testimony but could not say who told him not to testify last Thursday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has denied knowing about the order but has not responded to whether someone else called for the canceled testimony.
When asked about the no-show last week, an NYPD spokesperson said the department has made its stance on the law clear.
The NYPD did not respond to questions about why it suddenly decided to testify.