February 16, 2016, New York – Today, the court-appointed monitor overseeing reforms to the New York City Police Department’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices filed his second interim report on the steps taken to date to implement the court’s orders in the Center for Constitutional Rights’ landmark case, Floyd v. City of New York. While the number of stops the department conducts continues to decrease, the percentages of Black and Latino New Yorkers being stopped remain disproportionately high. The monitor reports that there are still a substantial number of unconstitutional stops, and that supervisors are failing to catch and flag them. He begins his report writing that “Ultimately, this a challenge of leadership, particularly at the levels that interact most directly with the officers engaged in enforcement—sergeants, lieutenants, captains, precinct and unit commanders.”
In response to the report, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
The court monitor identifies important reforms to policies and training that have been implemented in the first year of the monitorship, but recognizes that much more work needs to be done to rectify decades of unconstitutional and discriminatory policing in New York. His report captures some of the key obstacles to reform that must be overcome to ensure these changes take hold, particularly the challenge in mid-level leadership. We have long argued that you can write the best policies in the world and have the best training in the world, but unless and until there is commitment to reform at all levels of leadership, little will change. To succeed, reform must be comprehensive: the NYPD has to overhaul the way it trains, supervises, evaluates, and holds its officers accountable to the communities they serve.
Another critical piece of the effort to reform the police department is the court-ordered Joint Remedial Process (JRP), which is intended to solicit substantive input from directly-affected communities as well as other stakeholders on further reforms to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. The court-appointed facilitator for the JRP has now convened 40 focus groups in different locations, with different populations, including youth of color, LGBTQ youth, homeless people, and recently incarcerated people. The information collected will be combined with other input to shape recommendations for further reforms.
In his second report to the judge overseeing the case, the monitor writes, “Unfortunately, in many focus group sessions and discussions with individual officers throughout the ranks, we hear that this message is garbled by the time it reaches them. Many officers, including supervisors, do not have an appreciation of what changes are being made and equally important, why they are being made. And many appear not to understand what is expected of them.” He continues, “If, as the Commissioner has stated, these changes will improve the NYPD and make both the police officers and the communities safer, that message needs to be communicated better throughout the Department.”
It has been a little over a year since the monitorship began, and in that time the Center for Constitutional Rights has been working out the specifics of many of the court-ordered reforms with the NYPD. The major areas where we have made substantive progress are by no means complete, but they include:
- New curriculum for cadet training on constitutionality and racial profiling
- Revamped training for all officers and for supervisors
- New written policies on stop and frisk and racial profiling
- The creation of a process for the department to investigate civilian complaints of racial profiling
- A new stop form for officers to fill out that more accurately documents how and why stops are made
In August 2013, the Center for Constitutional Rights won a landmark ruling that found the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices to be racially discriminatory and unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The court appointed a monitor to oversee reforms.
Read more about Floyd here.
Covington & Burling LLP, Demos, and Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP are co-counsel in the 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.