Positive news on NYPD’s use of video surveillance during protest activity…which includes our monthly critical mass rides.
article from New York Newsday
NYPD cuts back on videotaping of political events
By TOM HAYS | Associated Press Writer November 10, 2008
NEW YORK – The country’s biggest police department has quietly dropped
a policy that encouraged officers to videotape political
demonstrations _ even legal and peaceful ones _ without restrictions,
a civil rights group said Monday.
The New York Civil Liberties Union had challenged the New York Police
Department practice in a federal lawsuit following the 2004 Republican
The suit alleged that during the convention, which was held at Madison
Square Garden, roving teams of officers armed with video cameras
infringed on free speech by taping protests at will. Police said the
taping was needed as a security measure to combat terrorism, and they
have steadfastly denied violating civil rights.
The NYPD, which has more than 35,000 officers, “does not engage in
unlawful political surveillance,” a city lawyer, Celeste Koeleveld,
said in a statement on Monday.
With the outcome of a lawsuit still pending, the NYPD issued an
internal order last year withdrawing the regulation permitting
unrestricted photographing and videotaping of all political activity
in the city, the NYCLU said. The order restored guidelines under the
so-called Handschu decision, named for the lead plaintiff in a case
that included 1960s radical activist Abbie Hoffman and others as
The NYCLU claims that it wasn’t notified of the change until last month.
“While we’re glad that the NYPD realized its surveillance policy ran
counter to the Handschu decree, it’s disturbing that the department
did so in secret, wasting precious tax dollars to engage in an
unnecessary legal battle,” said Arthur Eisenberg, legal director of
The city’s Law Department disputed that claim, saying it notified a
judge about the changes in videotaping policy in February 2007.
The revised written policy removes broader language permitting
recording of “events, actions, conditions or statements made” when
“such accurate documentation is deemed potentially beneficial or
useful.” It mandates a “bona fide need” to tape, such as capturing a
crime in progress or assessing crowd conditions.