News & Opinion » News

Police union sues to block city from releasing officers’ personal info


The Rochester police union has filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to prevent personal information about Rochester police officers from being included in any future release of officers’ disciplinary records.

In papers submitted to the state Supreme Court on Monday, the Rochester Police Locust Club stated that it believes city officials “intend, within a matter of days, to publicly release voluminous records relating to disciplinary actions against Rochester police officers.”

The union added that it was not trying to stop the release of disciplinary files, which it acknowledged are subject to public disclosure under state open records laws, but the lawsuit could have the effect of delaying the files being made public.
Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club.
The union argued that when lawmakers repealed section 50-a of the state Civil Rights Law, eliminating a legal hurdle to releasing police disciplinary records, the measure required that certain information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.

City spokesperson Justin Roj said that officials have taken the steps necessary to ensure the proper release of the records and provided opportunities for officers to review them and alert the city of any problems.

“This 11th hour attempt by the police union to keep people in the dark is without merit,” Roj said, adding that the city will defend itself against the lawsuit and that it plans to release the database of police disciplinary records before the end of the year.

In the filing, the union stated that it seeks to delay public disclosure of the disciplinary records until the officers have a chance to review their own files and ensure that any necessary redactions have been made.

“We haven’t gotten through all the files or spoken to all of the members,” Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo said during an interview Monday.

Mazzeo said that the union made an official request of the city to enter negotiations around the release of the disciplinary records, but that there hasn’t been any resulting agreement.

The lawsuit filing also noted that when the city released the disciplinary records of Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo in response to a Freedom of Information Law request, it posted the files to its website without redacting his home address and Social Security number.

The complaint stated that the disclosure led to an attempt to steal Mazzeo’s identity and open a credit account in his name.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].