The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging the New York Police Department to improve its proposed rule to amend and clarify procedures for suspending or revoking journalists’ press credentials.
In written comments submitted in advance of an Aug. 18 public hearing, the Reporters Committee welcomed more specific rules governing the suspension or revocation of NYPD-issued credentials. However, the police department’s proposed amendment should be improved to ensure that journalists who have credentials suspended or revoked receive meaningful due process.
The proposed amendment would permit the NYPD to suspend journalists’ NYPD-issued credentials if they are “lawfully” arrested or fail “to comply with a lawful order of a police officer.” The Reporters Committee’s comments urge the NYPD to ensure that officers “in the field” cannot summarily seize credentials.
The Reporters Committee fears that the proposed amendment, as written, would allow the NYPD to suspend or revoke credentials based on improper police interactions with journalists similar to those cited by the Reporters Committee in a June 6 letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea in the wake of protests against systemic racism and police brutality.
“While the proposed rule references ‘lawful’ arrests or ‘lawful’ police orders, the widespread unlawful arrests and assaults of journalists in New York City over the past two months counsel in favor of added specificity in the criteria for suspension,” the Reporters Committee’s letter states. “Specifically, the rule should affirmatively state that the arrest or assault of a journalist who an officer knows or has reason to know is a journalist lawfully engaged in newsgathering cannot be the grounds for suspension or revocation.”
Accordingly, the Reporters Committee urges the NYPD to clarify and improve the due process protections in the proposed rule.