NEW YORK – There is a New York City Council bill that would force the NYPD to open its anti-terror playbook to the public. This is a move the department warned would create a “blueprint for those seeking to do harm,” reported the New York Post.
The council’s Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act would require the NYPD to issue reports on what kinds of spy equipment police use — such as license-plate readers, cellphone trackers and X-ray vans used to peer through walls — as well how the department stores and protects private information collected.
NYPD Counterterrorism Commissioner John Miller cautioned otherwise. Revealing these details could give attackers a roadmap of NYPD intelligence operations that would only help them evade cops, he told a Public Safety Committee hearing Wednesday.
“This legislation would create an effective blueprint for those seeking to do harm,” said Miller. “It would be asking us to, say, describe manufacturing type and capability of recording devices worn by undercover officers or other personnel involved in investigations. That would be insane,” he said, according to dnainfo.com.
“As written, it would endanger police officers’ lives and the lives of other resources and the lives of citizens who may be caught in either criminal activity or terrorist attacks,” said Miller.
“This is not a passing objection,” he added. “Terrorists and criminals do their due diligence and they literally study and adapt to evolving security measures.”
Council members Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) and Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) introduced the bill, which would require the NYPD to publish “impact and use” reports that detail what spy tools the force employs. The bill also requires a description of how the technology works, internal rules over its use and how the police use and protect sensitive data.
“Civilians are in control of the police force — not the reverse,” Garodnick said. “We need to be able to understand what tools the NYPD has and how it uses them to ensure public trust in our criminal justice system.”
Larry Byrne, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters, believes the proposal is a broad overreach.
“The public must trust cops with sensitive matters,” he argued. “[The public doesn’t] have the right to know how certain technology can be used. There are very strict safeguards around how long and how these technologies are used.”
Fifteen council members have signed on as co-sponsors, though Mayor de Blasio believes the legislation is a non-starter, according to spokesman Austin Finan.
“This bill is a shortsighted overreach that would make New Yorkers less safe. We’re not about to hand over a roadmap for terrorists and criminals to avoid legal and well-established investigative techniques.”
Garodnick told the committee that he was willing to revise the bill with more input from the NYPD.
The staff at LET would like to support NYPD and Counterterrorism Commissioner Miller by offering the following commentary:
“This bill should make people cringe. It must be taken straight to the paper shredder. Anyone who believes something this asinine is in the best interest of public safety ought to be legally removed from office.”