Right To Know Act

About the Legislation | Endorsing Organizations | Fact Sheets

Legislation to prevent discriminatory & abusive policing and 
improve communication & accountability between NYPD and New Yorkers

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 Right To Know Act includes the following legislation:

Requiring NYPD officers to identify themselves to the public and explain the reason for the interaction (Intro 182)

New Yorkers should have the right to know the identity of police officers that interact with them, and the reason for law enforcement activity that prompts those interactions.  Intro 182 would:

  • Require officers to identify themselves and provide the officer's name, rank, command and a phone number for the Civilian Complaint Review Board at the end of police encounters that do not result in an arrest or summons.

  • Require officers to provide the specific reason for their law enforcement activity (e.g. vehicle search, stop-and-frisk)

All too often, New Yorkers have no idea why they’re being questioned, stopped or searched by a police officer.  NYPD policy already requires that officers provide their name, rank, shield number and command when asked.  However, in many instances, officers do not identify themselves to members of the public and many individuals report fear of asking for the identity of an officer for fear of retaliation.  Research suggests that in the absence of anonymity, officers are less likely to engage in abusive or discourteous behavior. New Yorkers should have the right to know the identity of police officers that interact with them.

Similar laws exist in other jurisdictions and the U.S. Department of Justice has made adoption of similar policies a requirement in consent decrees entered into with the City of New Orleans and the Puerto Rico Police Department.
Protecting New Yorkers against unconstitutional searches (Intro 541)

New Yorkers should have the right to know that under the US constitution, searches without any legal basis (such as probable cause or a warrant) do not have to be agreed to, and they should have the assurance that this right will be respected and upheld by police. Intro 541 would:

  • End the practice of the NYPD deceiving New Yorkers into consenting to unnecessary and unjustified searches 

  • Require officers to explain that a person has the right to refuse a search when there is no legal justification for a search

  • Require officers to obtain objective proof that an individual gave informed and voluntary consent to a search, when there is no legal justification for the search

NYPD officers routinely conduct searches without legal justification other than an individual’s assumed “consent”.  Too often, that is achieved by misleading New Yorkers into giving “consent” by simply ordering them to empty their pockets or open up their bags, without informing them that they do not have to agree. Most New Yorkers are unaware that they have the right to refuse such “consent” searches when the officer has no warrant, probable cause to believe they committed a crime, or other legal justification. The rights of New Yorkers to provide informed and voluntary consent to searches, and to decline such consent when there is no legal justification, should be protected.
Similar laws exist in other jurisdictions and the U.S. Department of Justice has made adoption of similar policies a requirement in consent decrees entered into with the City of New Orleans and the Puerto Rico Police Department. Some states have banned consent searches altogether due to their racially discriminatory impact.
To download this information as a PDF, click here.

Right To Know Act Endorsers

The Right To Know Act has broad support of organizations representing thousands of New Yorkers from across the city, and the Right To Know Act policy objectives have been endorsed by both the White House’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the New York City Council's Young Women's Initative

Click here to add your organization to the growing list of Right To Know Act endorsers.

Right To Know Act Endorsers:

5 Borough Defenders
100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care
1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East
Adhikaar for Human Rights
Advocacy Institute
Ali Forney Center 
Alliance for Educational Justice
Alliance for Quality Education
Amnesty International USA
Ancient Song Doula Services
Apogee Journal
Arab American Association of New York
Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Audre Lorde Project
Best Practices Policy Project
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Black Allied Law Students Association at NYU
Black Lives Matter NYC
Black Women's Blueprint
Blacks in Law Enforcement of America
Blacks in Technology - New York
The Black Institute
BOOM! Health
Bronx Defenders
Brooklyn Community Pride Center
Brooklyn Defender Services
Brooklyn Democratic Socialists of America
Brooklyn Movement Center
Brooklyn NAACP
Brotherhood/Sister Sol
BYP 100-NY
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
Campaign to Stop the False Arrests
Caribbean Equality Project
Center for Anti-Violence Education
Center for Community Alternatives
Center for Community Change
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
Center for Popular Democracy
Center on Race, Crime & Justice of John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Chhaya CDC
Child Welfare Organizing Project
Children's Defense Fund-New York
Churches United for Fair Housing 
Citizen Action of New York
Coalition for Educational Justice
Color of Change
Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center
Community Service Society
Community Voices Heard
Congregation Beth Elohim
Council on American Islamic Relations - New York
Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility
Criminal Justice Clinic at Pace Law School
Damayan Migrant Workers Association
Dignity in Schools Campaign - NY
DreamYard Art Center
Drug Policy Alliance
DRUM South Asian Organizing Center
El Puente
Equality for Flatbush
Faith In New York
Families for Freedom
Filipino American Democratic Club of New York
Freedom Side
Future of Tomorrow
The Game Changers Project
Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York
Gay Men of African Descent
Girls Educational & Mentoring Services
Girls for Gender Equity
Global Action Project
GMHC: Gay Men's Health Crisis
GOLES Good Ole Lower East Side
Harlem United
Harm Reduction Coalition
Hetrick-Martin Institute
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
House of Peace, Inc.
Housing Works
Ijo Orisa Yoruba Church
Immigrant Defense Project
INCITE! Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans people of Color Against Violence
Interfaith Center of New York
Jewish Voice for Peace-NYC
Jews Against Islamophobia
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
Journey for Justice Alliance
Justice Committee
Justice League NYC
Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement-NYC
Lambda Legal
Latino Commission on AIDS
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Legal Action Center
Legal Aid Society
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of New York
LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent
Local 1180 CWA
Long Island Democrats
Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York
Make the Road New York
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Manhattan Young Democrats
Marijuana Arrests Research Project
Mekong NYC
Met Council on Housing
Metropolitan Community Church of New York
Micah Institute
Middle Collegiate Church
Million Hoodies for Justice
Mothers on the Move
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)
Muslim Community Network
NAACP New York State Conference
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Action Network
National Latino Officers Association
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
New Immigrant Community Empowerment
New Kings Democrats
New School Students Against Police Brutality
New York City Anti-Violence Project
New York City Congress for Puerto Rican Rights
New York City Democratic Socialists of America
New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
New York City New Sanctuary Coalition
New York Civil Liberties Union
New York Communities for Change
New York Harm Reduction Educators
New York May 1st Coalition for Workers and Immigrant Rights
New York Metro Area Postal Union
New York State Nurses Association
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
OmoObatalaEgbe, Inc
OutRight Action International
Palante Technology Cooperative
Peace Poets / Brotherhood Sister Sol
Peoples' Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability
Peoples Power Assemblies
Persist Health Project
Picture the Homeless
Picture the Struggle
Police Reform Organizing Project
Poverty Initiative / Kairos Center for Religious, Rights, & Social Justice
PROS Network
Public Science Project
Queens Neighborhoods United
Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
Rhiza Collective
Red Hook Initiative
Red Umbrella Project
Responsible Endowments Coalition
Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York
Rockaway Youth Task Force
Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center
Showing Up for Racial Justice
Shut It Down NYC Mutual Aid Support Community
Sistas & Brothas United/ Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
St. Anne's Corner of Harm Reduction - SACHR
St Lydia's Church
St. Matthew’s Baptist Church of Harlem
Street Vendor Project
Streetwise & Safe
Students for Justice in Palestine
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
Transportation Alternatives
Tribeca for Change
Trinity Lutheran Church/Sunset Park
T'ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
True To Life (formally known as 49 strong)
Turning Point for Women & Families
Ugnayan Youth for Justice and Social Change
Union Theological Seminary / Poverty Initiative
Urban Justice Center
Urban Youth Collaborative
The Village Zendo
War Resisters League
Washington Heights Corner Project
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
Working Families Party
Yoruba Society of Brooklyn, Inc.
Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice
Youth Represent

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