By Gina Martinez
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) has announced new legislation that would require NYPD officers to get parental consent before using minors as “fillers” on police lineups.
Lancman announced the legislation at the Jamaica Branch NAACP after community members voiced outrage over the summer that a minor was used as a filler in a police lineup without parental approval. The councilman said using a non-suspect minor in a police lineup, without prior parental consent, is a clear breach of the NYPD’s internal protocol.
His new bill specifies that, before a minor can participate as a filler in a lineup, a parent or legal guardian must sign a consent form with a description of the lineup, where and when the lineup will be held, the name of the supervising officer, and notification if the teenager’s image will be used in any other identification procedures.
Lancman, chairman of the Committee on Courts & Legal Services, said parents should know and approve of any situation in which a minor is being asked to be involved in a law enforcement operation.
“We need to take action to ensure that what happened in Bellerose earlier this year does not happen again,” he said. “My legislation will codify existing internal NYPD policy into law, and ensure that both law enforcement and community members understand the protocol that must be followed if a minor is to be used as a filler in a police lineup.”
The councilman said officers were turned away from the Business Technology Early College High School on Hillside Avenue by school administrators and then approached a group of four teenagers on the street to participate as fillers. One of the four teens declined, two agreed with parental consent and the fourth teen agreed to participate, but without parental consent.
According to Lancman, police officers routinely ask community members to participate as non-suspect fillers in lineups, especially when dealing with short time constraints, in order to secure a “fair lineup.” Anyone who participates as a filler is compensated for their time. Officers are permitted to inquire if potential fillers are under the age of 18, but are supposed to obtain written permission from a parent or legal guardian for a non-suspect minor prior to the lineup.
Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica Branch NAACP, said he fully supports Lancman’s new mandate.
“Until a child reaches adulthood, a parent is vested with the authority to make decisions in every aspect of the child’s life,” he said. “If parental consent is required in writing for something as routine as a school field trip, then truly they should be granted the right to make a decision in something as precious and dear as their child’s freedom and liberty.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart