There have been several cases of police shootings and brutality caught on video recently, but some local lawmakers say there are still too many instances of police preventing people from recording. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Ruben An says he was wrongfully arrested by NYPD officers while recording them in 2014. Community activists and some City Council members say this happens too often, even though citizens have a First Amendment right to train their cameras on officers. Now, they also want a local law strengthening the right to record.
"I don't know that everyone knows they have a right to videotape," said City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez of Brooklyn. "Some people do know. Not everybody knows. This now would make it the law of this city."
The Legal Aid Society is representing Ruben An in a federal lawsuit against the city.
An was arrested after he was told he was in the way of pedestrians. Critics say police too often falsely accuse those making recordings of interfering with police operations, or blocking traffic.
Councilman Jumaane Williams is a co-sponsor of the bill. He says it gives anyone blocked from, or arrested for, recording the police the right to sue the NYPD.
"It actually specifies what the police can and cannot do when it comes to recording," Williams said.
The CCRB says so far this year, there have been 47 complaints of police interfering with recordings. Last year, there were 75 complaints.
The sergeants' union accused Council members of political pandering, saying, "The right to record police officers has always existed. What people don’t have the right to do is cause a nuisance or act in a disorderly or obstructive manner....this is once again another feeble attempt to make themselves appear effective at the expense of dedicated police officers."
The NYPD and mayor's office said they will review the legislation, but that officers already are advised the public can videotape interactions, even arrests. Council members say their bill will clearly state people cannot interfere with the police while recording.