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NY police union signals appeal of court decision on body-worn cameras

New York’s police union moved to appeal a state court ruling allowing the public to see body camera footage

Graham Rayman
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The city’s largest police union moved Wednesday to appeal a state court ruling that allows the public to see body camera footage.

The move was the latest step in a conflict pitting the Police Benevolent Association against the NYPD over whether the footage from body-worn cameras should be released. The NYPD had been selectively releasing videos of encounters with civilians.

The PBA sued to block the practice and got an injunction, arguing the footage constitutes a personnel record and is exempt from disclosure under section 50-a of the state Civil Rights Law.

In its Feb. 19 ruling, however, the appellate court in Manhattan concluded the public interest outweighed the union’s aim to protect the privacy of police officers. The decision was hailed by Police Commissioner James O’Neill and civil rights groups. The PBA announced it “began the appeals process” to challenge the decision.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said if the decision is upheld, he’ll bring the matter to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. Lynch noted the footage can already be viewed by a range of prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

“Crime victims, arrestees, police officers, bystanders and any other interested party, all have the right by law to stand before a judge and argue for or against the release of video footage,” he said. “A judge, whose primary interest should be the ends of justice, should decide if releasing specific video supports or defeats those ends. We have to keep the decisions to randomly release [body worn camera] video out of the hands of politicians and their appointees.”


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