NY criminal-justice groups want increased police transparency
Thursday, December 7, 2023
New York City community advocates want to reduce the number of stop-and-frisk encounters with police.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New York City reported the city's police department made more than 15,000 stops so far in 2023, the most since 2015. Data also show police primarily stopped Black and Latino people, although they were mostly innocent or not given a summons.
Christine Rivera, defense attorney for adolescents at Bronx Defenders, said the City Council is looking at legislation to increase transparency about why the stops are necessary.
"What the How Many Stops Act is asking for is, we want reports on those lower-level encounters as well," Rivera explained. "First of all, the federal monitor said that 29% of all Level 3 stops are not even being properly recorded. So, we don't even have the proper data for what is required right now."
The bill also calls for proper documentation of Level 1 and Level 2 stops. The measure builds on the Right to Know Act, which went into effect in 2018.
Rivera noted once the bill is passed, community groups such as hers will work on implementation, including developing a new documentation system, seeing what kind of oversight can eliminate problems and determining the training police officers will need for the new system.
Some precincts comply with federal monitors, but Rivera pointed out that those locations are not primarily where Black and Latino people are being stopped. In order for real change to come about, she feels state legislators might have to step in, since it is a growing problem on Long Island as well.
"Having our state legislators and our representatives apply pressure on the NYPD," Rivera suggested. "A lot of these police unions play a powerful role in these spaces, and maybe holding our council members' feet to the fire to say, 'Listen, you can't keep supporting this institution when it's causing so much harm in the community that you're representing.'"
She added community outreach and education has helped people understand the issues at hand. Her goal is to continue meeting with legislators and constituents to maintain the momentum on increasing police transparency.
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