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Police could withhold mugshots, arrest records under New York budget deal

New York lawmakers are set to approve a measure that would allow police to withhold all arrest booking information from the public, including mugshots and charges brought against any individual.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo first proposed the so-called “mugshot ban” in his state budget in January, arguing that it would fight unscrupulous websites that post criminal booking photos and seek payment to remove them.

But critics, including civil-liberties advocates and newspaper organizations, have criticized the plan for going much further, allowing police to shield any “law enforcement booking information” from public view.

That means police would now have the option to withhold even the most basic information about the people they arrest — a person’s name, what they’re charged with, their mugshot and any other information collected when they’re booked, according to critics.

The measure “appears to (keep) secret from public view or inquiry every piece of information collected during booking — a far broader reach than just mugshot photographs,” the New York Civil Liberties Union wrote in a memo opposing the proposal.

Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, have all agreed to the measure.

It’s expected to be put to a full vote as part of a $175 billion budget as early as Sunday.

Once approved, the measure would change the state’s Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL.

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