The City Council and the mayor have reached agreement on two bills that place strict requirements on police officers conducting stops or searches — legislation that police union leaders say would “unquestionably place New Yorkers and police officers in harm’s way.”
Known collectively as the Right to Know Act, the legislation would require cops to explain to individuals “using plain and simple language” that they have a right to refuse to be searched — except in cases where there’s a firm legal basis for doing so.
Cops would also be required to collect proof that a person consented to a search, via recordings from a body camera or by some other means.
The companion piece requires police officers in some circumstances to identify themselves by name, rank and command, and to explain why they’re questioning or stopping an individual.
Cops must also offer their business card at the conclusion of an interaction, except in cases where they make an arrest.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch cited the two recent terrorist attacks on the city in slamming the proposed legislation.
“Unfortunately, even as we face this dangerous reality for our city, there remains – especially from some members of our City Council — a continuous piling on of new burdens and second–guessing for our police officers,” said Lynch.
“Despite the revisions, the ‘Right to Know’ bills are still harmful pieces of legislation that present a dangerous distraction from the very real threats to our city.”
Advocates on the left were equally upset with the bill requiring police to identify themselves, because the original version had covered a much wider array of interactions.
The final version says there must be a suspicion of criminal activity in order for the ID requirement to kick in — so it wouldn’t apply, for example, to cops telling a group of kids to disperse or for routine traffic stops.
“By advancing a bill that fails to include the officer identification requirements for all non-emergency investigatory encounters and traffic stops, which are the site of many of the most frequent policing abuses, and creates a major loophole that guts the requirement for officers to give an explanation of non-emergency encounters, New Yorkers will remain without the [needed] transparency and accountability,” said Monifa Bandele, spokeswoman for Communities United for Police Reform.
Mayor de Blasio said he would sign the bills if they pass the Council next week as anticipated.