News & Opinion » News

Judge temporarily blocks city from releasing police disciplinary records


State Supreme Court Justice Ann Marie Taddeo has temporarily blocked the city of Rochester from publicly releasing the disciplinary files of any Rochester police officer.

The city planned to publicly release a database of those files by the end of the year. But the Rochester Police Locust Club filed a lawsuit against the city on Dec. 21 seeking to prevent it from including personal information about Rochester police officers in any future release of disciplinary records. On Dec. 23, Taddeo ordered the city not to release any officer disciplinary files while the lawsuit proceeds through court.

Taddeo set a Feb. 3 hearing date for the city to make arguments that it should be allowed to release officers' records without the officers — and if they choose, Locust Club representatives — first reviewing them to make sure they are accurate and that personal information is redacted.  The union has said it is not trying to stop the ultimate release of the records.

In its filing, the Locust Club noted that when lawmakers repealed section 50-a of the state Civil Rights Law, eliminating a legal hurdle to releasing police disciplinary records, the measure required that certain information be redacted from the files prior to disclosure. That information includes officers’ medical histories, home addresses, personal cell phone numbers, personal e-mails, Social Security numbers, and the use of any employee assistance program, mental health service, or substance abuse assistance service.

The police union's president, Michael Mazzeo, has said that officers have concerns about their personal information being made public. The suit notes that when the city released Mazzeo's disciplinary file in response to a records request, his home address and Social Secuirty number were not redacted.

The city posted the records to a public website, as it does with other Freedom of Information Law requests, and there was at least one attempt to fraudulently open a fraudulent credit account in Mazzeo's name, according to papers filed by the Locust Club.

In a phone interview on the day of the lawsuit's filing, city Communications Director Justin Roj said the city will fight any legal challenges posed by the Locust Club.

“This 11th hour attempt by the police union to keep people in the dark is without merit,” Roj said.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or