The New York City Council is set to move forward with two bills, Intro 541-C and Intro 182-D, which have previously been known together as the Right to Know Act. The New York Civil Liberties Union has long advocated alongside community partners for the passage of these common sense police reforms.
At today’s Public Safety Committee hearing, the NYCLU testified in support of 541-C, which requires NYPD officers to let people know that they have a right to refuse to be searched. When police conduct a “consensual” search, officers will also have to get objective proof that an individual consented. The NYCLU supported past versions of 182-D, which would have required officers to identify themselves and provide an explanation for a stop, and offer a business card at the end of any encounter that didn’t result in an arrest or summons. However, the NYCLU does not support the version of 182-D, which contains a loophole that exempts low-level police stops, the most common type.
The following statement is attributable to NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman:
“The consent to search bill (Intro 541-C) will improve policing in New York City by enhancing trust between police and the communities they serve. Ensuring New Yorkers are informed of their rights in police stops is as powerful an accountability tool as it is simple. This bill is the result of dedicated and dogged action by grassroots advocates to make policing work for all New Yorkers.
“The new version of the I.D. bill (Intro 182-D), however, is the result of a backroom deal that shut community groups out of the conversation at the last minute. Its current form does not require police officers to identify themselves in low-level interactions and at traffic stops. That means that hundreds of thousands of the most common police encounters, which are also the hardest to track, will be exempted from this common sense requirement that uniformed police identify themselves to the people with whom they interact. The NYCLU will continue to demand that officers say who they are when they stop New Yorkers in all encounters.”