Testimony Before NYCCouncil Calls for Police Reform, Passage of Right to Know Act
MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2015

Cynthia Conti-Cook, a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice’s Special Litigation Unit, testified before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety on police reform.

“We support the Right to Know Act and encourage the Council to pass this legislation which would take an important step in securing our communities’ ability to invoke their right to refuse a search and establish a right to know the name of the officer the people of our City encounter, “ Conti-Cook told the Council. “We support this legislation because we see the kind of improper policing that occurs when law enforcement officers are allowed to remain anonymous.“

She gave as an example a case involving an unlawful stop and search by two police officers handled by the Society and the law firm of Shearman & Sterling, in which a young man was bringing his newly acquired Associate degree to show his mentor. Both men are black. After being searched and questioned, the men were allowed to move on. However, neither officer was identified. Neither officer was held accountable. Members of the Council were urged to pass the Right to Know Act to “protect our communities from these violations by choosing to enforce the right to refuse a search – which requires that police inform people of that right rather than hope they are either ignorant of it or too intimidated to invoke it. We also ask that you further protect our communities by shifting the burden to the police officers to identify themselves rather than dare the people they’re aggressively confronting to ask them anything. Voting for the Right to Know Act is not a vote against effective policing; it is a vote against systemic violations of people’s constitutional rights and officer impunity.”