Last week, New York City government took a step forward and also a step backwards on police accountability. The half of the Right to Know Act sponsored by Council Member Antonio Reynoso (Intro 541-C) remains in an effective form that will help protect New Yorkers from unconstitutional searches. It is a testament to his strong leadership and skilled legislative negotiating, and should be passed by the City Council.
Right To Know Act
About the Legislation
The Right To Know Act is a legislative package to protect the civil and human rights of New Yorkers in everyday encounters with the NYPD by improving transparency and accountability. It consists of two bills (Int. 182B & Int. 541A) that are endorsed by 200+ organizations, have majority support in the NYC Council and are awaiting a vote.
Int. 182B of the Right to Know Act would help end abuses in a range of non-emergency police encounters by requiring officers to identify themselves and explain the reason for the official interaction.
Int. 541A would help end deceptive and unconstitutional searches by requiring officers to explicitly convey a person’s right to refuse a search when their consent is the only legal justification, and obtain objective proof that a person gave informed and voluntary consent.
Communities Need Legislation
As policing abuses become increasingly enabled through the actions and rhetoric of the current presidential administration, it is imperative for local officials to take concrete actions to protect New Yorkers, like passing the Right to Know Act. Yet there has been an attempt to prevent a vote on the Right to Know Act by striking a private deal with the NYPD. The Right to Know Act was introduced in 2014 and has gone through the transparent, democratic legislative process, earning support from a majority of NYC Council members and over 200 organizations from across the city and nation.
The unwritten deal, not accessible to the public and stripped of meaningful changes, removed any reliable measures of police accountability and the most important protections of the Right to Know Act, including policies explicitly prioritized by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The public revelation of the deal only increased support for the Right to Know Act, with more organizations endorsing the legislation and additional council members becoming co-sponsors in support. See the differences between the Right to Know Act and the deal »
Right To Know Act News
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.