New Yorkers who use their cell phones to record cops often get so close to the action they create a “dangerous environment,” Mayor Adams said Tuesday.
“There’s a proper way to police and there’s a proper way to document,” Adams said.
“If your iPhone can’t catch that picture with you being at a safe distance, then you you need to upgrade your iPhone,” said the mayor. “Stop being on top of my police officers while they’re carrying out their jobs. That is not acceptable and it won’t be tolerated.
“That is a very dangerous environment you are creating when you’re on top of that officer, who has an understanding of what he’s doing at the time, yelling police brutality, yelling at the officer, calling him names,” he added. “Now he has to worry about who’s behind him — [this] has gotten out of control.”
Adams, during a Police Academy press conference to discuss the gun-focused Public Safety Unit, said it was important to give the cops the training they need and then evaluate them based on the job they do — not based on what someone might say in a social media posting.
“I’m not going to put these men and women on the front line and have someone put a phone in their face while they’re taking action and try to critique their ability to do their job and allow the noise to determine that they’re not doing their job correctly,” the mayor said.
“They have my support. I’m not sending them on the front line and abandoning them while they’re on the front line.”
Later, the mayor, in response to a question about the rights of New Yorkers to record police, agreed that such footage could help police evaluate how officers acted.
“But that’s not what’s happening right now in our city,” he said. “We’re finding people who are standing on top of the officer while he’s involved in a dangerous encounter.
“Not acceptable — It’s not going to continue to happen.”
A short time later, mayoral spokesman Maxwell Young in a tweet said Adams “was in no way saying that NY’ers don’t have right to film police.”
The mayor also said, without specifics, that the public is going to be taught to record properly.
Norman Siegel, a veteran civil rights lawyer who endorsed Adams, said he doesn’t believe bystanders getting too close to cops while recording is much of a problem.
But if Adams wants to teach New Yorkers the right way to record, Siegel added, then the cops need to be told there is nothing illegal about being recorded.
“Because much too often when you deal with the NYPD, they make up their own rules as they go along,” Siegel said.
In 2014, cell phone footage of the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island went viral, sparking outrage and leading to calls around the country to reform police practices.
Garner’s friend, Ramsey Orta, recorded the incident on his cell phone — but he did so from a distance, and did not interfere in the fatal confrontation.
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