Starting September 21, 2015, NYPD officers will begin issuing “receipts” to anyone they detain but do not arrest. The receipts will offer an explanation for the detainment along with the officer’s badge number. The receipts will also have contact information for the civilian review board in case the citizen wants to file a complaint.
This measure comes in the wake of New York City’s controversial and now defunct “stop and frisk” program, which saw over half a million innocent people detained and searched by the NYPD just over four years ago. Most of those who were stopped and frisked were black and Latino.
This policy is a result of a 2013 federal class-action lawsuit, Floyd vs. City 0f New York. The judge in this case found that the NYPD unfairly targeted minorities while conducting “stop and frisks.” The court ruling empowered federal monitor Peter Zimroth to monitor, oversee reforms, and make protocol changes within the NYPD.
Here’s an official statement from the NYPD regarding this new policy,
“Based on the recommendations of the federal judge and court-appointed monitor, a new patrol guide procedure governing stop and frisk provides a new explanatory receipt to persons stopped but not arrested, baring exigent circumstances,” the NYPD said in a statement provided to VICE News.
This program resembles a bill being considered by the New York City Council titled, the “Right To Know Act.” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton rejected the bill earlier this summer. Bratton testified before the council in June,stating that any legislation which required cops to provide a reason for stops represented “unprecedented intrusions” into “police business.”
We all know what “police business” is, don’t we? As does the prison industrial complex. This is what Bratton said,
“Imposing conditions on daily officers’ conduct at the operational level…raises new and serious legal and operational questions,”
The commissioner isn’t the only person who has a problem with the new federal policy. Communities United for Police Reform is a coalation of dozens of grassroots groups pushing for policy changes within the NYPD. They championed the “Right to Know Act.” Monifa Bandele, a member of the group’s steering committee, called Bratton’s rejection of the “Right to Know Act” “disingenuous.” Here’s what she told VICE News,
“He said it was bad idea…but then they are going ahead and piloting something really similar,”
Bandele and the Communities for United Police Reform do support the federal program in principle. And while the new federal program seems similar to the “Right to Know Act,” Bandele says that it diverges from her coalition’s legislation in two key ways:
The federal policy requires officers to issue receipts only during “technical stops”. This caveat could allow the NYPD to leave out thousands of police encounters, such as traffic ticketing, and “routine questioning.” Bandele feels that this loophole could allow police to remain anonymous, while skirting the intention of the “Right to Know Act.”
Another point of contention is the fact that the receipts will be handwritten. This could allow officers to create illegible receipts which could confuse citizens and discourage reporting.
The “Right to Know Act” legislation required that officers carried pre-printed business cards with their contact information clearly stated on them.
Although many would suggest that these differences are minor, Bandele argues that the difference between the new policy and the legislation her group suggested makes the federal policy fatally flawed, stating that it’s “not even better than nothing at all.”
Zimorth wrote that the new policy will require police officers to identify a specific reason for performing the stop. Before the conclusion of the encounter the officer must check a specific box on a receipt which will look like this:
Meanwhile Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), which is one of the largest most powerful police unions in the country, slammed the new federal policy. He had this to say,
“[It’s] just one more item on the ever-growing list of anti-public-safety measures, ” he said in a statement. “[It] will put an end to proactive policing.”
Alex Vitale, a criminal justice expert at Brooklyn College, told VICE News,
“The suggestion that accountability hurts crime fighting is based on the faulty belief that that only way to reduce crime is through aggressive, disrespectful, and unconstitutional policing. This new procedure is no cure-all for the problems of discourteous, abusive, and excessive policing. But it is a step towards greater transparency and accountability, and could play a role in reducing some of the worst practices by officers.”
Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, who’s also a champion of the “Right To Know Act,” expressed his concerns about how the current federal reforms came about:
“It seems to me that only the threat of judicial intervention can force reform. Everything else to me seems inadequate,” he told Capital New York.
Gee ya think, Councilman? What’s next? A frequent frisk rewards program? I’m joking, but don’t be surprised if you see a story on that in the not so distant future.
Here is a video report from the Young Turks on this story:
This is a FOX news video “debating” this issue:
Here’s a video showing how some New York Residents feel about this policy: