Law Enforcement Perspectives on Public Access to Misconduct Records
Justice and Peace Studies
Law enforcement officers around the country are accused of misconduct every day. Their misconduct is alleged and documented in the form of civilian complaints, internal affairs reports, performance reviews, disciplinary board findings, body camera footage, and other records. These misconduct records contain information that is arguably both relevant to the public’s interest in holding law enforcement officers accountable and personal to the officer. The question of who may access these records is highly controversial and hotly disputed. Laws protecting misconduct records from disclosure are often enacted at the behest of law enforcement unions who claim that public access would seriously harm officers in the form of loss of privacy, damage to reputation, and even physical danger via retaliation. Conversely, transparency advocates argue that preventing public access to these records disincentivizes reform and creates environments where abusive departments and officers remain unaccountable.
Cardozo Law Review