NYC law enforcers under adverse light re unlawful records access

There are reportedly “reservoirs of records” on NYPD databases that one national publication notes city cops and other investigators “shouldn’t be able to see.”

Here’s why: They relate to criminal histories “that shouldn’t even exist.”

The nonprofit journalism group Marshall Project recently spotlighted legions of data stuffing NYPD computers that by law is supposed to be strictly off limits to cops.

The files are arrest records from the post, most notably the city’s infamous stop-and-frisk era. State law has long held that arrest records not yielding criminal convictions should be sealed or destroyed. Their continued access to cops is taboo.

That hasn’t turned out to be the case. The project reports that such records have continued to be readily pulled up by cops on the street over the years.

That widespread practice recently led to a lawsuit against the city and police department by a band of plaintiffs. The litigants allege they have suffered from policy violations. Their filing could ultimately receive class action certification and be joined in by thousands of other individuals.

Police officials say they do comply with the law, never disclosing it to third parties. The plaintiffs argue otherwise. They cite evidence that data routinely makes its way to prosecutors, the media and other groups.

States across the country are split on the practice. A recent report on the topic reveals that 25 states do permit access to sealed or dismissed arrest records and allow them to factor into ongoing profiling and investigations.

The New York lawsuit could turn into a litmus test for how such access will play out nationally in the future.

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