BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Police officers in New York will be under more public scrutiny now that their disciplinary records are considered open records.
New’s 4 Investigates took a deeper look into the record of a police lieutenant involved in an incident last month.
Lt. Mike DeLong’s disciplinary record became public Tuesday, the first city cop in decades to have his 20-year career scrutinized by the public.
That’s because Governor Andrew Cuomo repealed what was called the 50A Law, which shielded police disciplinary records from the public.
News 4 Investigates obtained DeLong’s file through a Freedom of Information Law request after an incident last month caught on video showed DeLong accosting a female who was lawfully recording a police encounter in Buffalo.
DeLong’s record shows he has at least 36 complaints filed against him for alleged use of force, off-duty domestic issues, not following procedures, and other issues.
Of those complaints, 22 were not sustained, which means the police department was not able to gather enough proof that he was or was not at fault.
However, he was suspended four times before the incident last month. In 2008 for a use of force complaint, In 2014 for off duty conduct.
He was again suspended in 2017 for violating the departments’ sick policies, and more recently in 2018 for an off-duty domestic incident.
His first suspension was for a June 17, 2008, use of force complaint. He served two days without pay for that incident. Police did not release any details about this case.
DeLong was suspended again for off-duty conduct on May 25, 2014, that is not described in his record. He served a one-day suspension without pay.
DeLong served another one-day suspension without pay for a February 9, 2017, violation of the department’s sick confinement policies.
The lieutenant was suspended again for 30 days without pay for an off-duty domestic incident on March 16, 2018. No details about this incident were released by the police department.
In addition, DeLong was reprimanded or forced into conference by his superiors at least 10 times during his career.
Once his disciplinary record became public Tuesday, dozens of people on social media wondered how he retained his job through those incidents.
News 4 was unable to get an answer to that question. The Buffalo Police Department does not comment on personnel matters and PBA President John Evans did not return messages seeking comment.
But we have been told that language in the union contract makes it very difficult to fire a police officer, even one with four suspensions on his record.
DeLong remains on a fifth suspension, this one 30 days, for the incident last month.
The department’s investigation is ongoing, and there’s no word if DeLong will return to work. One police source said he is close to retirement and that may be an option for him.
Dan Telvock is an award-winning investigative producer and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.