Lawyers at the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department on Wednesday after the department refused to disclose its policy on granting press passes.
The case began last year when long-time New York reporter Leonard Levitt’s press pass renewal application was suddenly denied.
Following the revocation, the NYCLU filed a formal request under the Freedom of Information Law to access the NYPD’s policy for granting press pass access. Every attempt by the NYCLU to get information from the NYPD over the past nine months was denied.
"We want to ensure that the NYPD is applying its press pass policy uniformly and fairly,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. “New Yorkers are entitled to know if the NYPD is stifling investigate reporting aimed at uncovering inappropriate, illicit or illegal behavior within the department."
For 24 years, Levitt’s reporting has focused on corruption, brutality and inefficiency within the NYPD. According to the NYCLU, Levitt believes that the sudden revocation of his access pass is retaliatory.
"The NYCLU requested this information to shed light on the NYPD’s criteria for issuing and denying NYPD press pass and to independently analyze the departments decision to deny Mr. Levitt’s application,” said Corey Stoughton, the NYCLU’s lead counsel in this case. “The NYPD cannot conceal it policies from the public. We have no doubt that the courts will require the department to comply with Freedom of Information Law."