June 29, 2010

Assembly Limits Electronic Databanking For Individuals Not Charged With Crimes

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Codes Committee Chair Joseph R. Lentol today announced the passage of legislation limiting New York City law enforcement officials from placing in computerized databases personal information - such as name, address or social security number - of individuals who have been stopped, questioned or frisked but not charged with a crime (A.11177-A/Jeffries).

Under current law anyone could have his or her personal information, including name and address, entered into a police database even if no legal action is taken.

The legislation passed today would not prohibit an officer from entering generic characteristics, such as race and gender, into a database.

"Criminal proceedings, convictions, jury verdicts-these are the tools we use to determine whether a person is guilty or innocent of a crime," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "While these stops and searches are often a useful crime-solving tool for law enforcement officials, it is appropriate that we not infringe on the right to privacy when a stop does not result in a criminal charge."

"If an individual is stopped, questioned and released without legal repercussions, records such as name, address and social security number should not be entered into computerized databases," said Lentol (D-Brooklyn). "A stop and frisk alone should not result in a permanent, computer-accessible law enforcement record."

"This legislation will help restore the balance between public safety and civil liberties that is appropriate in a democracy, by ending a practice that unfairly subjects law-abiding New Yorkers to indefinite criminal surveillance and suspicion," said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), sponsor of the legislation.