July 15, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation today from Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams that codifies and protects the right of civilians to record police officer activity. The enacting of this law, first introduced in 2016, comes after video of a Minneapolis police officer killing George Floyd has spurred a national movement for an end to policing injustice, videos taken at these protests have shown further officer misconduct, and an ongoing push for further reforms on a city, state, and federal level continues.

"We are in a moment when the need to protect public safety and the need to re-define it are more intertwined than ever. The solution lies in each entity, civilian and law enforcement working together to keep our communities safe and combat violence- and in allowing for transparency and accountability when that obligation is not met," said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. "Because of the advocates who pushed this need for years, we are now codifying the right to record into city law, further protecting the ability for the public to provide transparency and demand accountability as we move forward together in a holistic strategy to have safer streets and better policing at the same time. We cannot give into the false and destructive notion that communities must choose between accountability and transparency in policing or safer streets. The people of this city deserve both. Working together, we can provide it."

Int. 721-B or the Right to Record Act codifies into local law a person's right to record New York City police officers or peace officers acting in their official capacity, from a safe distance and while not interfering with police activity. The bill was  co-sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal. The legislation originally came after a number of prominent instances when civilians' right to record was deliberately infringed.

More information on the bill and the incidents which spurred its introduction and ultimate passage is available here.


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