New York Times Lawsuit Aims to Make NYPD Open Up

The New York Times is suing the New York Police Department for their alleged violation of the State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), says the Times.

The lawsuit describes four requests for information which were delayed or denied: the addresses of NYC residents who had gun permits, the database on hate crimes, the database on crime incident reports and the tracking log on FOIL requests.

The New York Times vice president and general counsel general counsel David E. McCraw said these denials mark a change in the organization.

“We’ve become increasingly concerned over the last two years about a growing lack of transparency at the N.Y.P.D. Information that was once released is now withheld. Disclosures that could be made quickly are put on hold for months.”

NYPD chief spokesperson Paul J. Browne said that none of the Times’ requests were “ripe for litigation” and that the NYPD disagrees with their interpretation of FOIL in the lawsuit.

According to a September profile of Browne in The Observer, relations between the press and the NYPD have grown increasingly strained under Commissioner Ray Kelly. Some believe it has to do with NYPD’s grab to earn the trust of the FBI (with whom they are partnered in the Joint Terrorism Task Force), and others believe it has to do with detectives giving reporters updates too frequently. To sever the cop-reporter ties, NYPD has reportedly punished officers with call logs to and from reporters on their NYPD-issued phones by transferring them to undesirable boroughs.

The Times points to another example of NYPD’s information lockdown.

One example of the department’s reluctance to give out data involved statistics for minor crimes – offenses like misdemeanor thefts and assaults, marijuana possession and sex offenses other than rape. The department acknowledged last month that it had not forwarded the data to the state since 2002. It was one of only two police agencies in the state that had not done so.


Check out Paul Browne and Ray Kelly’s early years.>>

@kstoeffel |

New York Times Lawsuit Aims to Make NYPD Open Up