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Cuomo: Police Disciplinary Records Should be Publicly Available
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Governor Andrew Cuomo addresses the press
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Credit: Gov. Cuomo's Office

Updated at 3:46 p.m. EST

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has agreed to impose a curfew Monday night after a weekend of peaceful protests in the five boroughs turned chaotic, with some ending in violence.

That curfew will begin at 11 p.m. and end at 5 a.m., Cuomo said. He said they'll reassess Tuesday whether the curfew should last beyond Monday.

"There is going to be a curfew in New York City," Cuomo said.

Cuomo also claimed that local officials across New York state have misinterpreted a section of state law that’s been used to bar public disclosure of police disciplinary records.

That law, section 50-a of the state Civil Rights Law, has been interpreted to restrict access to those records. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, has upheld that interpretation to a certain extent in recent years.

But Cuomo, on Monday, suggested that mayors across New York state should begin making the disciplinary records of police available to the public when they’re requested. His office has interpreted that to be legal, he said.

“I don’t believe today 50-a stops them from releasing disciplinary records. Today, I don’t think the law does it,” Cuomo said. “A gave them a legal opinion that said the law doesn’t apply.”

Cuomo, after saying Saturday that he would support a “reform” of 50-a, said Monday that the Legislature should repeal the law if mayors in New York don’t agree with his interpretation.

“Now use the moment. Release the records because the law doesn’t stop you,” Cuomo said. “But if that’s not enough, then the LEgislature should repeal the law.”

Democrats in the state Legislature have tried, in recent years, to either repeal that section of law altogether or approve amendments that would allow those records to be disclosed to the public in certain cases. Those efforts have been unsuccessful.

That could change in the coming weeks. Legislative sources have indicated that Democrats, who lead both chambers of the state Legislature, are considering a repeal of 50-a in the wake of this weekend’s protests and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Lawmakers could consider an entire package of bills aimed at easing tensions between communities of color and the police, but it’s unclear which measures have support, as of now.

Protests continued Sunday night in many cities across New York state, including New York City, where Cuomo said the situation was “not good.”

He also expressed concern over the protests, in general, saying that mass gatherings could set areas of the state back on the progress they’ve made with COVID-19 in recent weeks. New York City is scheduled to be the last region to start the reopening process next week.

Two regions of the state — the Capital Region and Western New York — are expected to enter the second phase of reopening this week, Cuomo said, after five other regions upstate did so last week.