After Repeatedly Failing To Document Stops/Frisks, NYPD Ordered To Record All Encounters

from the 'unpossible,'-says-department-unwilling-to-try dept

The NYPD’s stop and frisk program was declared unconstitutional in 2013. As deployed by the NYPD, the program involved high numbers of suspicionless stops disproportionately targeting the city’s minorities. Judge Shira Scheindlin heavily modified the program to steer it back in the direction of the Constitution, resulting in claims of a criminal apocalypse that completely failed to materialize.

One of the modifications was the deployment of body cameras. These were supposed to record stops, preserving a record of these incidents. Officers were also given additional paperwork to fill out for each stop/frisk to provide evidence of the perceived suspicion supporting the stop.

Neither of these mandates worked out particularly well. The number of stops was already decreasing rapidly before Judge Scheindlin issued her order. The stops that were still being made, however, weren’t by the (new) book. A court monitor report suggested plenty of unconstitutional stops were still being made by officers without filling out the mandated form.

That’s where the cameras could have helped, theoretically. The NYPD’s body camera program is in full effect, but it appears officers believe certain stops don’t need to be recorded. Once again — a decade into this litigation — the stop and frisk program is being modified, as Zuri Davis of Reason reports.

[T]he court wants to bring “the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies and practices into compliance with federal and state law.” To that end, [Judge Analisa] Torres has ordered both the NYPD and those who have brought suit over the practices to design a “pilot program” that would record “low-level” police interactions, referred to as “Level 1 and 2 investigative encounters.”

Until this modification, the NYPD’s body cam mandate only required recordings of Level 3 and 4 stops. Those are stops in which a person is detained (either by force or suggestion) and/or an arrest is likely to occur. Since the NYPD’s documentation of the stops central to the lawsuit (low-level stops based on minimal — if any — suspicion) has been subpar, this order should result in at least some form of documentation for these stops.

Or not.

The plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk case have largely supported supported the facilitator’s recommendations, with some minor tweaks, while the NYPD has rejected them, saying that they are “neither practical nor feasible.”

That’s the initial reaction: the pride of US law enforcement finds camera deployment during most police/citizen interactions unfeasible. The NYPD has issued this same reaction to almost every modification of its stop and frisk program: everything’s impossible until the department actually starts to make an effort to comply.

It may be difficult to record every stop initiated by an officer, but it’s not unfeasible. If the NYPD finds it burdensome, perhaps it should have made sure its officers kept up with their stop/frisk paperwork back when it was only paperwork. Instead, NYPD brass didn’t make this a priority for low-level officers so now their body-mounted ride-along buddies will have to provide the documentation officers have avoided filling out for much of the last two years.

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Comments on “After Repeatedly Failing To Document Stops/Frisks, NYPD Ordered To Record All Encounters”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: The definition of Infinitesimal

Yeah, at this point any time a judge issues an order to the NYPD the question should be, ‘now, what are you going to do when they ignore you?’

Until judges start handing out actual penalties(you know, like anyone else would face for ignoring a legal order from a judge) the NYPD will continue to act according to the belief that judges can be safely ignored, because history would seem to demonstrate that that’s totally correct, at least if you’re the NYPD.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The definition of Infinitesimal

How about the silent bench warrants they issue to the general public where all of a sudden you get pulled over and there has been a bench warrant out for 18 months and they handcuff you and haul you off.

They could just issue these. Then, when a cop shows up to perjure themselves against someone …bam in you go for contempt of court for 180 days.

Win win. A disrespectful cop is removed from the street, and the person they were going to lie about gets to go home because no one to testify against them.

Aaron Walkhouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: No. Storage capacities are adequate now.

Full career of each officer, archived permanently after that.

…and cameras should not only never stop but should also be
picked up from and returned to the custody of court clerks
on every shift.

Any camera ‘malfunction’ should mandate immediate return to the
courts for replacement [and prosecution whenever sabotage is detected].

That One Guy (profile) says:

'It wasn't a request.'

The plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk case have largely supported supported the facilitator’s recommendations, with some minor tweaks, while the NYPD has rejected them, saying that they are “neither practical nor feasible.”

If ‘leave the cameras on’ is too difficult a problem for them to deal with they are definitely not competent enough to be given actual weapons, or tasked with upholding the law, and they need to be fired immediately and replaced with actually competent people.

As for their response, be nice if the judge has/grew a spine and pointed out that it wasn’t a request, and if they find ‘let a camera record them’ to be too difficult then they have no-one but themselves to blame for their previous indifference making this one too hard for their laughably trained officers to handle, and if they still can’t get it they are more than welcome to practice in a nice cell for contempt of court(since I doubt anything less would get through their thick skulls).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It is too hard to do that and not capture the blatant illegal acts that most NYC police do every shift. Their rights violations would make the heart of a founding father break if it were ever to come to light. They have made themselves above the law. If it doesn’t apply to them, it doesn’t apply to anyone. It is a tool to oppress and nothing more.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"How do you get a higher than 100% failure rate for body-cams?"

"You see, it’s the strangest thing, not only do the body-cams on officers go out, but all the cameras pointed at them seem to suffer ‘technical difficulties’ too. Adding to the strangeness yet completely unrelated to that the NYPD seems to be under a curse of some kind that mysteriously results in smashed or missing phones of those around them."

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