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The Right to Know Act, new commonsense legislation introduced in the City Council, will improve communication between police officers and residents, and defuse conflict before it escalates. It is designed to rebuild trust between communities of color and the NYPD.

New York, NY— New Yorkers often have no idea why they are being questioned, stopped or searched, and don’t feel empowered to ask the identity of police officers interacting with them.

The Right to Know Act, legislation introduced by Council Members Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso, would help solve that problem. It has strong support from Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), community groups, local residents, and advocates.

The Right to Know Act will do two key things that are beneficial for civilians and officers: 1) require NYPD officers to identify themselves and explain their reason for subjecting a civilian to law enforcement activity and 2) require explanation of New Yorkers’ constitutional right to refuse a search when no legal basis exists for it except their consent. When such searches are conducted, there must be objective proof of the individual’s voluntary and informed consent. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY: 

“Although some recent progress has been made toward improving community-police relations, the experience on the ground for many young people of color has not changed. Even recent statistics show that young people of color are targeted for stops at much higher rates than the rest of the population. Today, we are introducing legislation to help ensure that all New Yorkers are aware of their right to consent to or refuse a search, in the absence of legal justification for the search. Most New Yorkers are not aware that they have this constitutional right. The Right to Know Act will also require officers to identify themselves in law enforcement encounters, which is a simple way to improve police-community relations.” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, a lead co-sponsor of the bill.

“While Mayor de Blasio’s recent announcement about curbing marijuana arrests is a step in the right direction, none of the policies set forth so far have dealt with the on-the-ground interactions between police and people, particularly the young men of color who are targeted at the highest rates. The Right to Know Act will go a long way toward improving these interactions. This legislation requires the police to obtain voluntary and informed consent in order to conduct searches, ensuring that all people are aware of their rights,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, a lead co-sponsor of the bill.

“All New Yorkers deserve better policing and safer streets. Everyone deserves to feel that their public safety and civil rights are protected. That was the mission of the Community Safety Act which I co-sponsored and that passed in 2013, and is the mission of the Right to Know Act, led by Council Members Torres and Reynoso. These bills do not change the framework cops need to engage in good policing, and does not change the existing legal requirements of probable cause for a search and reasonable suspicion for a stop. These bills are simply meant to continue the Council’s discussion about how the NYPD can engage in better and equitable police practices in all communities across the city. We all deserve that,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

“The ‘Right to Know Act’ embodies the NYPD motto of courtesy, professionalism, respect. The small acts — police officers identifying themselves, explaining the reason for a stop, and making sure individuals know their rights before a search — have the potential to significantly reduce abuses and bring major improvements to community-police relations. As part of the coalition that came together to pass the first Community Safety Act, I applaud this step forward toward respecting the rights and enhancing the safety of all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

IN THE NEWS

Capital NY:  Progressives push police reform bill opposed by de BlasioPolicing bills test de Blasio, and Council progressives

CBS NY: Bill requiring cops to get consent for some searches riles up NYPDNYC Council Bills Take Aim At Police Chokeholds, Stop-And-Frisk

New York Observer: Progressives Push ‘Consent’ as Antidote to Racial Bias in Drug StopsCity Councilman Rails Against Police Unions Spreading ‘Mass Hysteria’

New York Post: NYPD not asked about bill require permission to search

WABC TV NY; New York City Lawmakers Introduce NYPD Transparency Bill 

Epoch Times: NYC Council Introduces Bills on Chokeholds, Police Stopping and Questioning

Latin Post: New York City Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Improve Resident-Police Relations, Police Commission Calls it an Intrusion

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