A civilian review panel tasked with investigating complaints against New York City cops has spotted a trend: NYPD officers knocking cellphones and other video recording devices out of the hands of concerned citizens. In a three-year analysis of complaints against city officers starting in 2014, the Civilian Complaint Review Board discovered 257 complaints that contained 346 allegations of officer interference with civilian recordings of police actions, LawNewz reports, citing a CCRB report. In addition to knocking devices out of civilians' hands, those acts of interference included verbal directions to stop recording, obstructing sightlines, and threatening to arrest or detain civilians for recording police actions. All told, 46% of the complaints alleged physical interference.
Although the CCRB was only able to substantiate 28% of the misconduct allegations, the board recommends adding new language to the NYPD Patrol Guide that makes clear that civilians generally have the right to record police actions, defines what police actions constitute interference with that right, and reiterates that searches and seizures of recording devices usually require search warrants. Doing so will not only help protect peoples' rights but also increase the amount of video taken of police actions, improving the "board's ability to determine if an allegation of misconduct happened, didn't happen, or happened but was lawful," said CCRB Executive Director Jonathan Darche in a press release accompanying the board report.