One day after the announcement that personnel files for Utica police officers will be disclosed to the public, The Oneida County Sheriff, Robert Maciol says he is not comfortable releasing personnel files.
Last last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo repealed 50-A which previously prevented the disclosure of law enforcement personnel records. Now law enforcement employees are subject to public disclosure with some legal exceptions.
“That personnel file contains discipline. It contains complaints , those are the negative things but it also contains training, it also contains all the good guy letters that people get. You know things that they do, saving a life, getting an accommodation for solving a major case…”—Maciol
With the climate we are in right now, Maciol says people are not going to focus on all the good things the officer did or how well trained the officer is, “Because you look at the number of complaints let’s say that’s brought up against a police officer. Well if a police officer’s working in a unit that is an aggressive unit because it has to be by the pure nature of their work okay if they’re working in a high crime area or they’re working in a narcotics unit.” That officer is more likely to receive negative complaints.
“Or let’s say on the flip side you have an officer who deals with all positive stuff, working in a community affairs unit where you’re out in the community doing good things, that officer’s going to get good guy letters in the mail.” —Maciol
Maciol says he just doesn’t feel comfortable releasing personnel files, “Putting everybody’s information out for everyone to view and like I said pick and choose what part of that file they’re going to do something with. I don’t think that’s fair.” —Maciol
The sheriff’s department will deal with personnel files through FOIL Request (Freedom of Information Law) which is a part of the repeal of 50-A. People can request an officers record through FOIL.