Matter of Belgrave v. City of New York – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Matter of Belgrave v. City of New York (137 AD3d 439, 27 NYS3d 2 [1st Dept 2016]), the issue was whether civilian employment as a Police Communications Technician with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was something different from "membership" in a law enforcement agency, and therefore subject to the protections of Correction Law §§ 752 and 753.

For purposes of appeal, it was deemed that NYPD denied the applicant based on her prior criminal conviction. Petitioner argued that "membership" applied only to persons with the authority to enforce the law (i.e., police officers and peace officers), and not to those seeking civilian employment.

The Court cited the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of "membership" as " 'the state of belonging to or being a part of a group or an organization--the state of being a member--all the people or things that belong to or are part of an organization or a group' . . ." (137 AD3d at 441).

Thus, the Court held that membership applied to anyone who sought to be hired by a law enforcement agency, and rejected petitioner's attempt to minimize the nature of the position.

The Court noted that "PCTs (911 Operators/Radio Dispatchers) take calls, obtain critical information and are the first point of contact between the public and law enforcement. By dispatching police resources and performing other clerical and administrative duties related to the provision of emergency service, a PCT also has access to confidential information, including non-public activities. The civilian nature of the job does not determine its importance in NYPD operations" (137 AD3d at 441-442).