A federal judge has directed the New York Police Department (NYPD) to temporarily suspend a policy that forbids recording within police precincts, pending the outcome of ongoing litigation.
SeanPaul Reyes, a social media figure and advocate for constitutional rights from Long Island, initiated legal action against the NYPD after he was arrested on two occasions for recording in the Brooklyn 61st and 75th precincts.
Reyes maintains that this policy infringes upon a municipal ordinance safeguarding the right of citizens to record police activity, as well as the constitutional rights outlined by the United States Constitution.
Nicholas Paolucci, representing the law department, conveyed the city’s disappointment in the court’s decision.
“NYPD is committed to protecting the privacy of victims and keeping New Yorkers safe, particularly inside the public areas in precincts,” Paolucci stated.
The NYPD had previously noted that the ban, established in 2018, aims to protect the privacy of those within the criminal justice system, such as victims and witnesses.
Court documents reveal that the NYPD fears recording could potentially disrupt ongoing investigations and place officers at risk.
U.S. District Judge Jessica Clarke acknowledged that while Reyes might not substantiate a First Amendment violation, his legal challenge could prevail based on the Right to Record Act, passed by the City Council in 2020.
This act explicitly authorizes recording law enforcement as long as it does not physically obstruct their duties or violate any laws.
Reyes, who commands a significant following on various social media platforms under the name “Long Island Audit,” regularly tests the boundaries of this right by filming inside public agencies.
His actions often result in him being removed from the premises or, at times, arrested.
Reyes has stated his intent is to foster greater transparency and accountability, particularly focusing on the NYPD.
“My goal is to expose the bad officers and try to hold them accountable through my platform,” Reyes commented earlier.
Judge Clarke expressed concern that prohibiting Reyes from recording could cause him “irreparable harm,” as it would hinder his ability to provide public insight into the activities of police officers.
The suspension of the prohibition against recording is an interim measure as the legal proceedings involving Reyes’ case progress through the judicial system.
However, the order permits the police to intervene if someone records in a manner that violates the Right to Record Act.
Reyes continues to fight the criminal charges of obstructing governmental administration and trespassing from his June arrest at the 75th precinct, to which he has pleaded not guilty.