The importance of openness in the police system

The importance of openness in the police system

 

Figuring out whether the system of law in the United States is being run properly involves more than just tracking the police to make sure they don’t abuse their power.  It also means looking into the systems that are there to keep them following the straight-and-narrow.  A recent lawsuit filed against the New York Police Department revolves around this particular issue, checking in on judges who oversee police trials to make sure that they are taking their responsibilities seriously.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is trying to gain access to the records that judges put together regarding their own opinions on the results of departmental trials.  They insist that these opinions need to be made public so that those outside the system can determine whether the police are being held properly accountable for their actions.

This insistence by the NYCLU was prompted in part by the city’s ‘stop and frisk’ policy, which has received a large amount of criticism and concerns that police may be using it to target minorities.  Racial profiling is not the only reason, however, as police have received complaints that they may be abusing their power in other situations, such as fixing tickets for people.

The NYCLU has been denied access to the judicial opinions for the last 10 years, which brought about the current lawsuit.  These opinions have no affect on the way that officers are treated post-trial, but the NYCLU feels that they are nonetheless important in order to make sure that the accountability system is working properly.

Being aggressive in matters concerning police misconduct is extremely important.  Officers of the law have more power than most and must be held accountable when they abuse it, even more so than those in other positions.  Not being to access this vital information may be an indicator that the NYPD is protecting their own, which is contrary to the ‘protect and serve’ motto.  People in such positions of power can abuse them too easily and should be prepared to be under a constant watchful eye for the good of the public.  If these means that certain records need to be made available to the public, then so be it.  Better a few secrets are made known than corruption fester within the heart of the very institutions which are there to protect us.