New York, April 30, 2009 – Today, the New York City Council Committees on Public Safety and Civil Rights held a hearing to address stops-and-frisks by the New York City Police Department (NYPD). At the hearing, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged the council members to: 1) create an independent monitor of the department; 2) reform the Civilian Complaint Review Board; and 3) require the NYPD to make more of its data public. CCR offered these remedies independent from its current lawsuit against the NYPD for racial disparities in stops-and-frisks. CCR issued the following statement:
“The enormous racial disparities in stops-and-frisks by police apparent in the NYPD data we received indicate the need for oversight and transparency. Policing experts across the country recognize that independent oversight of police departments leads to better law enforcement and greater transparency restores public confidence. The City Council is doing the right thing confronting illegal stops-and-frisks by the NYPD. It’s time for creative solutions to end the use of what is not only racially discriminatory but an ineffective crime-fighting tactic – stops-and-frisks are a grave concern for New Yorkers and their rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”
CCR issued a report earlier this year which analyzed three-and-a-half years of NYPD stop-and-frisk data and showed that over 80 percent of NYPD-initiated stops are of Blacks and Latinos, who only make up 50 percent of New York City’s population; and that Black and Latino New Yorkers are more likely to be frisked after NYPD-initiated stops than Whites and are more likely to have physical force used against them during NYPD-initiated stops than Whites.
The data was obtained as part of Floyd v. City of New York, a class action civil rights lawsuit filed on January 31, 2008 charging the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stops-and-frisks of law-abiding New York City residents. According to CCR attorneys, the named plaintiffs in the case – David Floyd, David Ourlicht, Lalit Clarkson, and Deion Dennis – represent the thousands of New Yorkers who have been stopped, on the way to work, in front of their homes, or just walking down the street, without any cause, primarily because they were people of color.
Floyd stems from CCR’s landmark racial profiling case, Daniels v. City of New York, filed in the wake of the Amadou Diallo shooting, that led to the disbanding of the infamous Street Crime Unit and a settlement with the City in 2003. The settlement agreement reached in Daniels required that the NYPD maintain a written racial profiling policy that complies with the U.S. and New York State constitutions and provide stop-and-frisk data to CCR on a quarterly basis from the last quarter of 2003 through the first quarter of 2007. An analysis of the data revealed that the NYPD continued to engage in stops-and-frisks without suspicion and based on race. That analysis and all the data it was based on were under a protective order that did not allow it to be released to the public until the judge ordered it released in the Floyd case.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.