- Over 24% of NST Stops Reviewed by Monitor Unlawful
- Unlawful Stop Rate “Notably” Higher for highly-trained NST Officers than for NYPD Overall
- Nearly Everyone Stopped (97%) Is Black or Latino
- Nearly Half NST Teams’ Weapons Searches Illegal
- NYPD’s Internal Reviews Failing to Identify Illegal Stops
- Supervisors routinely approving bad stops by NST officers
- Officers cited “criminal possession of a weapon” on 89% of stop reports, yet unclear whether any weapons recovered at all
June 5, 2023, New York, NY – The New York Police Department’s street crime units known as Neighborhood Safety Teams (NSTs) are frequently making illegal stops and nearly exclusively stopping Blacks and Latinos, according to a report released today by the Court-appointed Monitor. The rate of illegal stops is higher than the department’s as a whole. The Monitor’s report also reveals that the department’s internal review mechanisms are failing to identify illegal stops.
NSTs are the latest incarnation of plainclothes NYPD crime units whose abusive and sometimes lethal tactics stirred widespread opposition in the late 1990s and again in 2020. When he announced the creation of NSTs, Mayor Adams promised that “the Department must ensure that the best officers are selected for the position and that they are properly trained, equipped, and supervised,” and promised that independent oversight would ensure accountability.
That accountability, in the form of the Monitor’s report, shows that the NSTs are a threat to the constitutional rights of New Yorkers. Plaintiffs in the Stop-and-Frisk litigation and other advocates call on the NYPD to end this failed experiment. The NSTs, like the Street Crime Units and the Anti-Crime Units that preceded them in abusive conduct, should be abolished. (Statements below.)
The Monitor team audited 184 stop reports by NST officers by looking at the body-worn camera video and reviewing stop reports. It found that officers had reasonable suspicion to conduct the stop in only 74% of the cases, meaning one in four stops was illegal. Even more troubling, the monitor found that one out of every three “self-initiated” stops—those where there is no third-party complaint—was illegal. Across every category, NSTs made illegal stops at higher rates than other officers. Furthermore, in 230 car stops, weapons were recovered only twice - a rate of .08% - despite the NSTs’ stated mission of getting guns off the street. And in the 184 reports, while officers indicated 89% of those stopped were for “criminal possession of a weapon,” there is no indication that any weapons were recovered at all.
Perhaps most important, nearly 97% of those stopped by NST officers were Black or Latino. This combination—specialized teams of officers deployed to stop and frisk Black and Latino youth without particularized reasonable suspicion—is precisely why the department was placed under a federal monitorship. This stop rate is higher than that found to be unconstitutional in Floyd.
The monitor also found that the NYPD’s internal controls for identifying illegal stops are hopelessly broken. Reviewing supervisors approved every one of the stops that the monitor team determined was illegal. Review by the department-level Quality Assurance Division(QAD) also failed to identify illegal activity: while the QAD approved 84% of searches conducted by NST officers, more than half (55%) were illegal. Even where QAD found certain stops were unlawful and agreed with Monitor, the NYPD continued to defend those stops. The Monitor noted that "[t]he defense of unlawful stops, frisks, and searches is troubling, and we recommend the Department focus its efforts on correcting improper behavior rather than justifying it. "
For more information on Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, see the Center for Constitutional Rights case page.
Statement from Communities United for Police Reform:
“The racial disparities unearthed by this report make it more clear than ever that the so-called neighborhood safety teams are a failed, regressive, abusive, and discriminatory policing tactic that must be discontinued immediately,” said Anthonine Pierre, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center. “The NYPD continues to rebrand failed plays from the same abusive playbook and it continues to lead to discrimination and violence, especially in Black, Latinx and other communities of color. In light of this report, the NYPD must immediately dismantle these units and instead invest in real community safety solutions.”
Statement from LatinoJustice PRLDEF:
“The NYPD has a history of racial profiling, as proven in court in the Floyd, Davis, and Ligon cases,” said Andrew Case, Supervising Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “The creation of the Neighborhood Safety Teams will lead to the ongoing deterioration of trust between our communities and law enforcement and perpetuate illegal profiling and improper arrest. LatinoJustice has long supported holding the NYPD accountable for misconduct which is why we call on the NYPD to act immediately to put policies and legal protections in place to end these abuses which harms our communities of color the most.”
Statement from the NYCLU:
“The ‘Neighborhood Safety Teams’ may have a new uniform, and a new name, but they continue to perpetuate a legacy of unlawfully and aggressively policing New Yorkers,” said Daniel Lambright, senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Despite Mayor Adams’ promises to reform these anti-crime units, the Monitor’s report shows that the ‘Neighborhood Safety Teams’ are engaged in a pattern of disproportionately targeting innocent Black and Brown New Yorkers for unlawful and dehumanizing stops and frisks. Instead of doubling down on destructive policing tactics that drive mass incarceration, the Adams administration should listen to impacted communities and invest in them.”
Statement from Jonathan C. Moore, partner at Beldock Levine & Hoffman and lead counsel in Floyd:
“The mayor should know better than to endorse the creation of another rogue unit of the NYPD that goes out on the streets to find guns and ends up simply violating the rights of law-abiding New Yorkers. The creation of these new units are, in the words of Mayor Adams who testified for the Plaintiffs in the Floyd trial, designed to instill fear in young Black and Latino youth that every time they go on the streets they will be stopped and frisked by the NYPD. This policy was found unconstitutional by the federal court in 2013 and it remains unconstitutional today.”
Statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
“Anti-crime units rebranded as neighborhood safety teams are not a real solution to creating the safe communities that New Yorkers desire and should be disbanded,” said Samah Sisay Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and Counsel for Floyd, “These units are almost exclusively deployed into Black and Latinx communities where they are conducting unlawful stops and engaged in the same racial profiling that New Yorkers have been organizing against for decades.”
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.