.

Hakeem Jeffries Calls Stop-and-Frisk Settlement a 'Step Forward'

Class-action lawsuit and settlement reignites the 'Stop and Frisk' debate.

Last July, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill that did away with the NYPD's stop-and-frisk database.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and State Senator Eric Adams, both of whom represent Prospect Heights as well as other areas, made it illegal for police officers to add the names and addresses of every person they stop, question and frisk to an electronic database used in criminal investigations.

Nearly 90 percent of the people in that database are innocent of any crime, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

However, the legislation does not prohibit the practice of Stop and Frisk altogether. But, all of that may soon change.

On Friday, the city settled in a federal class-action lawsuit filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and the Legal Aid Society on behalf of nine people who claimed they were illegally stopped and frisked by police at city housing projects.

The city now will pay out more than $170,000 -- payments range from $5,000 to $75,000.

"The resolution of this lawsuit is a significant step forward toward ending the hyper-aggressive stop and frisk practices our communities have been forced to endure," said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries of the City's decision to settle. "In a democratic society, there must be a balance between public safety and a healthy respect for civil rights and civil liberties. We will continue to press forward until we have reached that balance in central Brooklyn."

Those who sued said they were unlawfully stopped and frisked as part of trespassing-enforcement policies in public housing, which include floor-to-floor sweeps of high-rises known as vertical patrols.

Police say the patrols are one of the best ways to provide security in public housing. But civil rights groups argue it leads to racial profiling.

However, Mayor Bloomberg defended the policy: "Let me remind you, crime is down for the ninth year in a row. We have a slight uptick in murders, but overall crime continues to go down and the numbers are so low in murder that they'll always go up and down a little bit," said Bloomberg.

"And stop-and-frisk is one of the techniques the Police Department uses -- uses it effectively and is very careful to make sure that we don't discriminate against anybody. The stop-and-frisk numbers roughly follow the reporting from witnesses and perps, witnesses and victims, in terms of who gets stopped."

When a reporter noted that the names of people who haven't done anything wrong are still kept on file, the mayor responded, "Just go back and look at what we've been doing. Do you want the 10th year of crime to continue to come down? We're going to continue doing what we're doing."

One city resident said the cops "don't want to ask questions like, 'Do you live here?' and all that."

"I got ran up on going home, and they came out the back of the staircase while I was going to my door, and they stopped me, asked me where I was going," the resident said. "I was telling them I was going home. They searched me for my ID and everything, they didn't believe me

In response, New York City Police Department Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said, "Police officers assigned to public housing developments try to provide safety for the low-income residents who live there that occupants of doormen buildings elsewhere take for granted. One of the ways they accomplish this is through vertical patrols."

A settlement is not an official ruling, so the decision does not represent a legal precedent. Additionally, The city says the settlements are not an admission of any wrongdoing.

However, it does raise the bar on the distance NYPD make take the practice of stop and frisk, against the risk of another settlement.

Jeffries's office says it's too early to speculate whether or not he will introduce another bill.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »