Police, open government experts skeptical of Governor's proposal to hold back booking info, photos

January 25, 2019 07:29 PM

QUEENSBURY - We often learn of arrests through reports in the evening news. They might be in your community or arrests of public figures, or celebrities. The stories are typically accompanied by mugshots. However, under a proposal from the governor, neither the arrest information or the photos would be disclosed by police.

Cuomo saying disclosing booking information, including photos, is an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

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The New York State Sheriff's Association says the public has a right to know and arrests "cloaked in secrecy" would "erode the public's trust in law enforcement."

"Secret arrests. Nobody gets to know who was arrested or for what they were arrested," said Warren County Sheriff Bud York, who is on the Executive Committee of the Sheriff's Association.

The governor says the legislation would protect people from predatory websites which threaten arrestees that they'll keep posting their information and pictures unless they pay up.

"Why are you targeting common sense? Why are you targeting the 1st Amendment right?" asked York. "Why don't you start targeting these bloggers?"

Robert Freeman, executive director of the state's Committee on Open Government, said, "We don't have secret arrests in this country."
Freeman finds the proposal confusing, particularly the part about not disclosing arrest records.

"The public would not be served well if that kind of basic material concerning a government law enforcement function were all of a sudden out of bounds."

The governor's proposed ban on releasing mugshots and arrest information wouldn't apply to cases where police need the public's help tracking down fugitives and suspects.

Still, Sheriff York calls the proposal "poppycock."

"And I think this is a slippery slope," York said.


Mark Mulholland

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