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NYC council overrides mayor’s veto of bill requiring NYPD cops to record data about every police encounter

The new law requires officers to record the apparent race, gender and age of every person officers question, even if they are not suspected of committing a crime


Bernhard Richter/Dreamstime/TNS

By Anthony Izaguirre and Philip Marcelo
Associated Press

NEW YORK — New York City police officers will be required to record the apparent race, gender and ages of most people they stop for questioning under a law passed Tuesday by the City Council, which overrode a veto by Mayor Eric Adams.

The law gives police reform advocates a major win in requiring the nation’s largest police department and its 36,000 officers to document all investigative encounters.

Since 2001, NYPD officers have been required to document instances in which they have asked someone “accusatory” questions as part of an investigation, detain or search someone or arrest them.

But the new law requires officers to document basic information in low-level encounters, where police ask for information from people who aren’t necessarily suspected of a crime. Officers also will have to report the circumstances that led to stopping a particular person. The data would be made public on the police department’s website.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who sponsored the bill, said that reporting the encounters could be done in less than a minute on an officer’s smartphone through the system already in place.

“This is not about preventing police work,” Williams said. “This is police work.”

The mayor, a Democrat and former police captain, on Tuesday argued that in police work, minutes and seconds could be the difference between life and death.

“These bills will make New Yorkers less safe on the streets, while police officers are forced to fill out additional paperwork rather than focus on helping New Yorkers and strengthening community bonds,” he said in a statement after the vote, in which the council cleared the bar of two-thirds support needed to override the veto with 42 in favor and 9 against.

The department’s largest police officers’ union, in a statement after the vote, warned that the council would have to answer to constituents for “rising 911 response times and diminished police presence” in city neighborhoods.

“New York City police officers will comply with the new law and do the job the way the City Council wants it done,” said Patrick Hendry, president of the Police Benevolent Association. “Despite the increased workload and the NYPD’s critically low staffing levels, we will continue to protect our communities to the best of our ability.”

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Democrat who is not related to the mayor, said police and other opponents were exaggerating how much of a burden the new requirements would be. The law doesn’t require officers to document casual conversations, such as providing directions, which are explicitly exempt under the requirements, she stressed.

“There should not be resistance to telling people who is being stopped in this city and why,” she said.

The council on Tuesday also overrode Adams’ veto of a bill that would restrict the use of solitary confinement in the city’s jails.

The law places a four-hour limit on isolating inmates who pose an immediate risk of violence to others or themselves in “de-escalation” units. Only those involved in violent incidents could be placed in longer-term restrictive housing, and they would need to be allowed out of their cells for 14 hours each day and get access to the same programming available to other inmates.

In his letter vetoing that bill, Adams argued the restrictions would put inmates and corrections officers alike at risk. He also cited concerns raised by a federal monitor appointed to evaluate operations at the city’s jails.