The Utica Police Department will be posting personnel records of all current employees online, Mayor Robert Palmieri announced Wednesday.
“It will take some time for us to put them all up,” Palmieri said.
While the mayor said it will take city officials some time to put them all up, some records — including those for Utica police Chief Mark Williams and Deputy Chief Edward Noonan — will be available online starting Monday.
The records could range from any disciplinary filings to commendations. Personal information will be excluded.
The decision comes after a section of New York’s civil rights law protecting such records was repealed. The measure previously allowed personnel records of police, firefighters, corrections officers, parole and probation officers to only be accessed with a court order.
Excluding personal or medical information, such records can now be accessed with a Freedom of Information Law request.
Other recent reforms — passed to address police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died as he was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers — include a ban on chokeholds and establishing an independent office to review police.
Williams said the news that these bills passed was a relief to the department.
“We realized, as an accredited police department, we’re already doing what they’re passing,” he said.
Williams said the release of records would not be as much of a concern to officer morale or recruitment as what he described as current attitudes toward police.
Palmieri said the move was indicative of the city’s progressive approach to policing. He cited the department’s early use of body-worn cameras as well as the city’s Access and Inclusion Committee, which had held a summit earlier this year on community-police relations.
“What happens after something like this, it always looks like we're being reactive,” committee chairman Anthony Colon said. “But, quite honestly, this has been a discussion that we had started five years ago, and it just it's just running parallel now with what's going on in the community in the country.”
Palmieri said he believes the web postings will be a first for any city in the state.
Some databases do exist across the United States created by nonprofits or news organizations using data from leaked records or lawsuits, such as CAPstat (Cop Accountability Project statistics) in New York City or Chicago’s Citizens Police Data Project.
“I think it's very important because people are looking for transparency,” Palmieri said. “And I think this reflects the fact that we're not afraid.”