Last Wednesday, staffers from the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) joined Councilman Antonio Reynoso at Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn to distribute informational flyers in the busy area.
Earlier in the day, Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, spoke to a group of students in Far Rockaway about the new law as well.
“It’s been something that the CCRB has taken on, as its own initiative, to inform the public,” said Yojaira Alvarez, CCRB’s deputy director of Outreach and Intergovernmental Affairs. “We want to let as many New Yorkers know as possible.”
The Right to Know Act, which went into effect last October, has two components. The first is the NYPD identification law, which requires cops, in certain situations, to give civilians a business card that includes the officer’s name, shield number and information on how to file a complaint with the CCRB.
According to Alvarez, at any point during the interaction, civilians can request the business card.
The second element, called the Consent to Search law, requires an officer to ask for permission before searching a bag, vehicle, home or person.
They also have to inform the civilian or their right to say no, particularly if they do not have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a crime. At the end of certain situations, cops have to tell the civilian the reason for their interaction, Alvarez said.
Passed at the end of 2017, the Right to Know Act was originally part of the Community Safety Act, which was enacted in 2013. That package of legislation instituted an inspector general for the NYPD and banned profiling based on race, gender and sexual orientation.
The CCRB is responsible for investigating allegations of any police officer who does not abide by the Right to Know Act.
“We’re a small but mighty agency,” she said, “so we can use all the help we can get to get the word out there.”
Reynoso, an outspoken supporter of the law, said he’s happy and impressed with the CCRB’s awareness campaign and for going “all in on this.”
He said despite the media coverage of the bill when it passed, not everybody got the message about what it means for their rights when interacting with law enforcement.
“So we just have to keep doing our work, it’s only the beginning,” Reynoso said. “We passed it, now it’s about making sure everybody knows and making sure the police officers follow the law.”
The City Council receives quarterly statistics on the implementation of the law from the NYPD. Reynoso said he’s not sure if the police training is “all in yet,” but acknowledged that the training will take some work.
“The NYPD wasn’t all in on this bill, so we don’t expect their enthusiasm to be at 100 percent,” he said. “But it’s the law, so they have to follow the rules of the law and we’ll do our part to make sure we hold them accountable.”