New Yorkers will soon have a more difficult time getting a look at the faces of alleged crimes.
Due to a new state measure as part of the latest budget approval process pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York State Police announced on Wednesday that troopers and investigators will no longer release mugshots, nor will they be provided through the state Freedom of Information Law.
New York State Police trooper James O’Callaghan, a spokesman for the department in western New York, issued a statement on Wednesday, April 10 confirming the change.
“Effective immediately, NYSP will NOT include mugshots in press releases, and they will not be provided to media when requested," the statement said. "This is due to the new State Law that effectively bans the release of booking photos. NYSP will be able to release mugshots for specific law enforcement purposes only. One example would be if we were searching for a wanted or missing person, of which we have a booking photo from a previous arrest.”
The push to change the state’s Freedom of Information Law came with Cuomo encouraging the ban to prevent independently run websites from posting arrest photos and then demanding cash to take down the photos. Initially, Cuomo's proposal included allowing law enforcement across the state to withhold booking information, names and charges, though that measure was ultimately shot down.
Most local sheriffs offices and police departments have been continuing to release mug shots. State police noted they will still release photos that could prove valuable in investigations, cases of wanted suspects and missing persons.
“I believe the public — and especially victims — demand transparency of the criminal justice system,” Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour said to WRGZ in upstate New York. “Therefore, I will continue to provide the same transparency we always have.”
New York State Police noted that “the law is not designed to limit all access to these photos, but instead to protect the privacy rights of individuals involved in the justice system and to allow law enforcement agencies to determine when disclosure is reasonable given the circumstances.”
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