Hudson, Catskill, and Troy get information requests for police complaints
Jul 30, 2020 6:33 am
Freedom of Information Law requests are now being made to local police departments, in the wake of nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In June New York lawmakers repealed the 50-a law, which allowed law enforcement to shield police misconduct records from the public. “This is an enormous step forward for police accountability in New York State. At a time when New Yorkers have taken to the streets in the midst of a global pandemic to voice the need for police accountability and racial justice, this is a welcome development,” said Rebecca Brown, policy director for the Innocence Project. Nora Mishanec reports for Columbia-Greene Media that at the July 27 Hudson Police Committee meeting Police Chief L. Edward Moore and Police Commissioner Peter Volkmann discussed hiring and promotion practices, and complaints against officers and explained what they are doing to comply with Mayor Kamal Johnson’s June 15 executive order on police reform. And Michael Hofmann of the group Hudson for Social Justice discussed his FOIL request. Hofmann found that seven personnel complaints were filed against officers between 2017 and 2020. Moore said the number was actually nine, with seven complaints from the public and two filed internally. But neither Moore nor Volkmann would provide details of the misconduct allegations, only saying the incidents were nonviolent. “This is the balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the public to know about it,” Volkmann said. Hoffman objected to a rule requiring the public to enter police headquarters to file a personnel complaint. “Some sort of intermediary is needed to alleviate the fear that Hudson citizens might have about filing a complaint,” he said. But Moore said he thought that personnel complaint forms are also available at city hall. WGXC had a live webstream of the police committee meeting, and has archived the meeting in the WGXC Audio Archives for anyone to listen to or download. Elsewhere locally, the website Muckrock has posted that they have a similar FOIL request with the Village of Catskill. The website says they asked Catskill for the information in June, and that, by law, the village must respond in five days. But the website does not show any response yet from the Village of Catskill. The Troy Democratic Socialists have also filed a FOIL request with the city of Troy for the disciplinary records of several police officers, including information related to the killing of Edson Thevenin.