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New law limits release of mugshots

Posted at 12:05 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 18:13:22-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York law enforcement won't be releasing as many mugshots from now on.

A new law requires that many mugshots be withheld from public distribution.

This comes after third party websites take and post the pictures online and then demand money if the person in the photo wants it to be taken down.

One possible exception to the rule will be when releasing the photo is important for public safety.

"Effective immediately, New York State Police will not include mugshots in press releases, and they will not be provided to media when requested. 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," a statement from the New York State Police said.

For the moment, the Erie County Sheriff's Office said the same thing.

"Erie County Sheriffs Office has temporarily suspended the release of mugshots pending a thorough review of the new law and a consultation with the county attorney," a statement said.

However, some peopel think this is an issue of government transparency.

"Public information is in general what we need. More public information. More transparency not less," Vicki Ross, the executive director at the Peace Center in Buffalo.

She understands the need to protect people from the extortionists, but thinks it should be done in a different way.

"Criminalize that act of threatening the person," she said.

Ross also stressed that arrests are not convictions.

"People are not guilty by means of being arrested."

7 Eyewitness News reached out to 10 different law enforcement agencies. The NYSP and Erie County sheriff said they will not release mugshots. However, the Genesee and Chautauqua County Sheriff's will. Cheektowaga chose not to comment. The others did not get back to us.

This article will be updated throughout the day.