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Judge temporarily blocks release of Buffalo Police disciplinary records

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Posted at 10:39 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-25 08:55:08-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The unions representing Buffalo police and firefighters have been granted a temporary block on the public release of disciplinary records that are pending, unsubstantiated, or have resulted in a "not guilty" finding.

State Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Sedita III issued a temporary restraining order on the City of Buffalo on Friday.

In court filings, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association and Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association argue that the release of all disciplinary records could do irreparable harm to the officers or firefighters and their families, because some of the records are unsubstantiated.

"The disclosure of Unsubstantiated and Pending Allegations without due process of law is functionally irreversible, and will create unfair, unlawful, and unending notoriety for [union members] and their members, with a significant impact upon their future employment prospects," the petition argues.

The petition goes a step further, arguing that the release of records could "imperil the safety" of police officers and firefighters.

The City of Buffalo has until August 14th to submit opposition letters to the court.

This lawsuit by the police and firefighter unions is in response to New York's appeal of Section 50-A of New York's Civil Rights Law in an effort to promote transparency in law enforcement across the state.

Since 50-A was appealed, Buffalo Police have been inundated with Freedom of Information Law requests for officers' disciplinary records.

Buffalo's Common Council has asked Buffalo Police for all complaints filed against police officers over the past five years.