Lead Lawyers in Landmark Stop-and-Frisk Case Demand Additional Legislative Reforms

Center for Constitutional Rights Supports Critical NYPD Transparency Legislation How Many Stops Act 

December 20, 2023, New York
As the New York City Council prepares to vote on the police transparency legislation the How Many Stops Act (HMSA), Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy issued the following statement in support of the bill and in response to the City’s representations about the scope of so-called low-level police encounters: 

The Center for Constitutional Rights served as counsel to New York residents in Floyd v. City of New York, the landmark civil rights class action in which a federal judge found the NYPD liable for a pattern and practice of racial profiling and unconstitutional stops in 2013 and ordered oversight and reforms through a federal monitorship. A decade later, the department is still unlawfully stopping, searching, and questioning people– NYPD stops are increasing and still disproportionately targeting Black and Latinx New Yorkers. Adding to the problem, as the federal monitor and even the NYPD recognize, police officers are not reporting all of the stops they undertake, which masks an even bigger problem about current policing practices in New York City.  

New York City cannot address the NYPD’s long history and continuation of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory policing practices without proper oversight and public transparency. Proposed City Council legislation, the How Many Stops Act,  seeks to address this critical problem by requiring police to report on what are formally known as level 1 and 2 “investigative encounters” – which otherwise go unrecorded. The bill does not require an officer to document every interaction they have, but rather uses the long-established legal definitions for when an officer can approach someone on the streets, the same definitions integrated into the NYPD’s patrol guide. Therefore, under this bill, officers would need to document police encounters only if they have a specific law enforcement or investigative purpose.

The City’s objection to this basic transparency requirement is that recording “level 1” encounters, the lowest level of police investigative encounter, would cover any and all police activity with the public – this is demonstrably false. The NYPD’s own training materials contradict their current talking points: “Saying hello, answering questions, giving directions” do not rise to “level 1” and would not require documentation under the HMSA.  Rather than spread misinformation, the City and the NYPD should work with City Council and communities most impacted by the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop practices to ensure that the data transparency required by HMSA, which can be collected quickly and electronically, becomes a reality. 

We encourage the New York City Council to pass the How Many Stops Act as a meaningful step toward police accountability and true community safety.

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.


Last modified 

December 20, 2023