The Yonkers PBA is comprised of the nearly 500 men and women who patrol the streets of Yonkers and who put their lives on the line every day. On behalf of these proud police officers, I denounce the decision by Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino to release the names of 23 police officers from Westchester County who allegedly have had adverse credibility findings, criminal convictions or pending criminal cases.
The District Attorney claims that this list is maintained because it allows them to disclose the information to a defendant and his or her counsel pursuant to their legal and ethical duties. This is simply not true. With regard to this current list of 23 police officers, most of the information that landed them on the list would not impeach them as witnesses and therefore does not have to be turned over to the defense. For example, it is preposterous to think that an officer’s credibility would be challenged due to a violation he received 27 years ago or in another case, when an officer’s drivers license was temporarily suspended 26 years ago, both incidents occurring long before they became police officers. That is what this list implies and the fact that it was arbitrarily turned over to the media is disappointing and irresponsible.
In addition, only weeks ago, Manhattan civil court Judge W. Franc Perry ruled that lists such as these are exempt from disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Law and are instead tantamount to attorneys’ private notes. “The adverse credibility finding is ultimately assessed by the attorney, familiar with the particular facts of the case, and must be analyzed within the context of a particular criminal case where a police officer may testify,” Perry wrote in the ruling, which described prosecutors’ requirement to disclosure findings to defense attorneys as “attorney-work product.”
This decision was not born of legal or ethical responsibility, or alleged transparency, but solely of political expediency. The careers and reputations of hard working police officers have been strewn aside for the sake of winning a Democratic primary, one that appears to be a contest of pandering to the progressive left.
Much akin to the recently implemented criminal justice reform laws, laws that are responsible for driving crime rates through the roof, the releasing of this list was done ignoring and jeopardizing what should be a primary goal of all of our elected officials, especially the County’s Chief Prosecutor. That goal should be to keep our communities safe, not to cater to criminals.
Det. Keith Olson