Following a Freedom of Information Law request by Gothamist/WNYC, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino released a list of thirteen active-duty police officers who have criminal convictions on their record. Their crimes range from DWIs and assaults to reckless driving and prohibited use of a weapon.

Allan Fong, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority officer, is named on the list for an assault charge he pleaded guilty to in 2017. Fong allegedly hit a man in the back of the head while on duty at a train station in White Plains, according to prosecutors. His plea deal included a one-year conditional discharge and fifty hours of community service, according to the Daily Voice. Reached by phone, Fong declined to comment.

Orville Kitson, a Mount Vernon police officer, is on the list for a 2018 conviction for the prohibited use of a weapon. According to LoHud.com, the officer fired two shots from his service weapon on a street in Mount Vernon after drinking at a party. Kitson kept his job. In September, he was charged for allegedly pulling out a gun on a man while at a Carribean party in Coney Island. Afterwards, police officials put Kitson on modified duty, but did not immediately report the shooting to prosecutors, according to a local news report.

Asked about the list, Kitson said in a brief phone call, “there’s nothing you can do about it.” He declined to comment further, saying whatever he could say would have to go through his union.

The list also names officers who have pending criminal charges or who have had their credibility challenged by judges.

DA Scarpino said his office has been working on compiling the list for several months, inspired by the DAs’ lists published in New York City which were released in response to Freedom of Information Law appeals by Gothamist/WNYC. Scarpino argued his office’s release was careful to balance officers’ privacy concerns with the public’s “right to know.”

“It is important for us to release information with regards to adverse credibility findings and criminal convictions and pending criminal charges of active police officers,” he said, distinguishing from other records like police department’s internal affairs records. “To me, that's what's important. The public needs to know this."

Across the country, records like these have begun to shed light into how frequently police officers get to keep their badges and guns, even after being convicted of crimes. Last year, an investigation by a consortium of California news outlets identified dozens of officers who remained on the force despite criminal convictions across the state.

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Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, praised the release, calling it “a step in the right direction.” But she cautioned that many critical police records are currently shielded from the public because of a law, known as 50-a.

“It is important for the public to have information about the officers who serve their communities. Yet New York has one of the worst police secrecy laws on the books, keeping the public in the dark about police misconduct,” she said in a statement.

Police union officials slammed the release. Michael Hagan, president of the Westchester County Police Benevolent Association, argued that officers should not be publicly shamed for judges’ credibility findings, which he said are just one person’s opinion. He also said officers should have more input in the release process.

"There’s no doubt that if you’re going to put out a list that challenges the truthfulness or veracity of a police officer, whose entire career depends on their reputation, you should at least sit down and have a conversation with those people," he said.

Scarpino said he understood that perspective, and noted he was willing to amend the list as new information was brought to his office’s attention.

Some police reform activists also charged that the disclosures were politically-motivated. Damon Jones, publisher of Black Westchester Magazine and leader in Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, pointed out that Mimi Rocah, Scarpino’s opponent in his upcoming Democratic primary, had previously pledged to release such a list.

“It has been a trend from what they call progressive district attorneys to let out ‘bad cops lists,’” he said. “But he refused to until he had a credible opponent in Mimi Rocah for the Westchester County District Attorney Primary.”

Rocah, a former federal prosecutor, echoed this criticism. “If he had wanted to put it out for transparency purposes, he would have put it out a long time ago,” she said.

The Democratic candidate questioned why Scarpino’s office handed the document over to a local news outlet a day before his office officially responded to Gothamist/WNYC’s Freedom of Information Law request, which had remained unfulfilled for weeks. “His release was to give it to one press outlet, so that he could put, frankly, his spin on it,” she said.

Scarpino disputed the assertion that he crafted the release in a way to score political points. He said his office had been working on compiling the list long before the public calls for such a release began.

Scarpino and Rocah will face off in the Democratic primary in June. Though Scarpino is an incumbent, the election could be tight. Last month, the county party narrowly endorsed Scarpino, but Rocah has a high-profile as a national legal analyst for MSNBC and had raised far more in campaign contributions as of last month.

If you have a tip, or if you work or have worked in a prosecutor's office, a law enforcement agency or the courts, email reporter George Joseph at gjosephwnyc@protonmail.com. You can also text him tips via the encrypted phone app Signal, or otherwise, at 929-486-4865.