Starting this month, if you get stopped by a police officer in New York City and are not arrested, you may be handed a business card that will explain how to request officers’ body camera footage of the stop.
It’s all part of the Right to Know Act, a new law designed to increase transparency within New York’s police department.
The law was passed in December in response to allegations of unnecessary and unjustified stop-and-frisk searches by the NYPD, says the legislation. It’s being rolled out first in four precincts across the city, according to a police department directive shared with the New York Post.
The cards contain the name of the officer, along with their rank and shield number. If you want to obtain the officer’s body camera footage of the stop, the card directs you to an NYPD website which walks you through how to file a request for the footage under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
Officers will be required to give out the cards at the end of any “stop and frisk” interaction that doesn’t result in an arrest or summons, according to the website.
“It’s the ultimate community policing,” said New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres, one of the chief sponsors of the new law. “It’s designed to deescalate confrontations” by giving those stopped an easy way to get information that they are legally allowed to receive without making things more tense, he said.
Not everyone likes the idea
But some police officers are not happy about having to hand out the cards, according to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), the largest police union in the city.
“They are opening the floodgates for anti-police advocates to demand the release of footage of every single police action,” the union said in a statement to CNN.
“With this order, the NYPD is going out of its way to undermine its own public safety mission. After helping to push the Right to Know Act through the City Council over the PBA’s opposition, the NYPD is now going beyond even those misguided mandates to encourage the filing of meritless complaints against police officers,” the PBA said.
“We spent four years painstakingly negotiating this legislation to ensure we were striking the right balance between freedom and safety. There is nothing careless about this legislation or the way we crafted it,” he told CNN, adding that it was the result of negotiations with the NYPD, the City Council and the Mayor’s Office.
“The apocalyptic criticisms (that) critics are making will never come true and are coming from the same groups apposing body cameras in general,” Torres said.
All of the NYPD’s approximately 36,000 officers will be handing out the cards by the fall, according to the requirements of the new law.