On Tuesday, the New York City Council passed two police reform bills. One marks a vital step toward police reform and accountability. The other takes our city in the wrong direction.
Right to Know Act
The Right To Know Act is a legislative package that aims to protect the civil and human rights of New Yorkers while promoting communication, transparency and accountability in everyday interactions between the NYPD and the public. New Yorkers want to live in a safe city where the police treat all residents with dignity and respect, and where police are not considered to be above the law.
The City Council passed the Right to Know Act, a package of police reform bills, despite opposition from some Council members over a last-minute compromise made to appease the NYPD.
One bill, sponsored by Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres, a speaker candidate, mandates that cops to identify themselves when making a stop. This bill was changed to have the identification requirement only cover stops involving suspicion of criminal activity. The other bill, sponsored by Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso, requires cops to ask for permission before searching an individual.
Melissa Mark-Viverito made sure her final stated meeting as city council speaker was a full agenda — and it was filled with goodbyes and controversies.
At issue were two bills dealing with how police and the public interact.
One requires that the NYPD direct officers to search only after obtaining "voluntary, knowing, and intelligent consent."
The second requires police give out business cards, including name, rank, and shield number, while noting 311 can be called to submit comments about the encounter.
The City Council is set to vote Tuesday on a package of major police accountability legislation that aims to protect New Yorkers from improper police searches. The pair of bills, known together as the Right to Know Act, passed the Council's Committee on Public Safety in a split vote on Monday.
This Tuesday, New York City Council members will vote on the two-headed package of bills known as the Right To Know Act. The original two pieces of legislation, that are now versions, Intro 541-C and Intro 182-D, were drafted in an effort to improve police accountability, communication and transparency during police encounters.
City Council legislation meant to force NYPD officers to identify themselves in certain nonemergency encounters — and distribute business cards when there is no arrest or summons — is continuing to lose support from foes of police misconduct.
The groups say the bill ultimately creates loopholes that cops can exploit.
On Tuesday, the New York City Council will vote on two police accountability bills. One represents real reform that will protect New Yorkers' privacy rights when police ask to search them without probable cause. The other is faux reform that is the result of a backroom deal between powerful politicians and the New York Police Department.
Mayor de Blasio reversed course on Tuesday saying he now supports legislation that promotes greater police accountability. The Right to Know Act includes two bills — one that requires police to identify themselves, and another that requires a person's consent before certain police searches.
Until now, the mayor and the NYPD opposed the bills, arguing the department had already addressed these issues by changing their own policies.
A pair of police reform measures vigorously opposed by New York City’s largest officers union is moving toward passage in the City Council, a last-ditch effort by its departing speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has staked her legacy on criminal justice reform.
After years of debate, false starts and back-room negotiations, the legislation, referred to in police reform circles as the Right to Know Act, is now set to be voted on during the Council’s final full meeting next week, just before new members and new leaders are sworn in January.
A deal between the NYPD and City Council would impose the council’s first day-to-day restrictions on how cops deal with the public.
Under legislation to be voted upon on Tuesday, an officer in certain nonemergency encounters would need to provide name, rank and command, explain the reason for the stop and hand out business cards when no one is arrested or issued a summons. Cops also would need to record explicit consent, either on audio or in writing, before searching a person absent a legal basis.