The last few years have seen a lot of discussion and charges surrounding the rules that police in America have to operate under. We've seen many of these reforms happening in the Empire State.

From police departments all over the state starting to deploy body cameras and tasers to cities having cameras installed all around town to track cars as they drive around town. If you compare policing in New York to just ten years ago, you would see that things look quite a bit different.

While police departments have changed many policies over the years, some have stayed the same. One that has come up time and time again is whether the police can stop you on the street and ask you for your identification.

Can Police Officers In New York Stop and Identify You?

In the years since cities like New York and Buffalo have ended their stop-and-frisk programs, there has been much debate about what officers can legally require citizens to do while they are out and about.

NY City Council Votes On NYPD Oversight
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That said, can an officer legally stop you and ask you to give them your identification?

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), you are not required to carry ID, and you don’t have to show ID to a police officer if you are stopped and questioned.

Now, the police can stop you and ask you questions if they, according to the NYCLU, have reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime.

Now, if the police detain you, issue you a summons, or arrest you, they can hold you until they can positively identify you. However, even then, you are not required to give them your ID.

Do These Same Rules Apply If You Are Driving A Car?

The stop and identify rules do not apply if you are operating a motor vehicle in New York State. If you are stopped, and an officer asks for your identification, like a driver's license, you are required to produce it. This also includes the vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

However, this only applies to the driver of the vehicle. If you're a passenger, then the regular rules apply.

What Do You Do If The Police Stop You?

The police have a lot of power while they're on duty. Several civil rights organizations, including the NYCLU, recommend that you stay calm and in control of your words, body language, and emotions, and do not resist the officers even if you think you're right and they're wrong.

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Gallery Credit: Dave Wheeler

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