Still “Much Work to Be Done”
August 7, 2015, New York – Today, the court-appointed monitor overseeing reforms of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices submitted two reform policies – on racial profiling and street encounters – for the judge’s approval in the landmark Center for Constitutional Rights case Floyd v. City of New York. The policies were negotiated with all parties to the case and, once approved, will be binding on the NYPD.
The Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement in response:
We welcome the development of a NYPD policy prohibiting racial profiling and other forms of bias-based policing as a critical step in remedying the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices, and we look forward to its speedy adoption and implementation. The new policy imposes a categorical prohibition on racial and national origin profiling; it also prohibits other forms of biased policing not covered in the NYPD’s current policy, such as profiling on the basis of religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, and housing status. This implements the requirements of the community-driven Community Safety Act, passed in 2013.
We are also pleased that the new policy regarding street encounters will place clearer legal limits on stops and frisks of New Yorkers. It requires supervisory review of officer conduct to ensure compliance with the Constitution, a much needed change in the supervisory culture of the NYPD, which has for too long been plagued by an emphasis on “making numbers.” While we believe that the NYPD’s pilot program to provide a stop receipt, requiring officers to identify themselves and provide to the person stopped the reason for the stop and information about how to file a complaint, is an important step, it does not go far enough. To ensure greater police accountability, plaintiffs have written to the court to reserve their right to seek further improvements to the stop receipt and measures requiring the NYPD to document lower-level police encounters.
Much work remains to be done, including training NYPD officers and supervisors to identify and root out racial profiling. Training on implicit bias will be essential for this to be effective. Likewise, NYPD command must ensure rigorous auditing of these new policies – including auditing to ensure the constitutionality of stops and to make sure that citizens are receiving accurate stop receipts – as well as appropriate discipline for violations of these policies.
Impacted communities must be able to offer their perspective on these policies, and the Joint Remedial Process set to begin this fall will provide a mechanism to do just that, which will benefit the reform process and contribute to meaningful and lasting change.
In August 2013, the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel 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, including a joint remedial process that is intended to solicit substantive input from directly-affected communities as well as other stakeholders.
Read more about Floyd here.
Beldock Levine and Hoffman LLP, Covington & Burling LLP, and Demos 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.