New York Police Union Says More Reporting On Stops/Frisks Will Hurt The NYPD's Effectiveness

from the 'we're-at-our-best-when-we're-not-held-accountable' dept

If anything might make police-community relations better, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) — the union representing NYPD officers — is against it. PBA President Pat Lynch has come out against body cameras, community policing, and even his own union members.

The battle over the court-ordered revamping of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program rages on five years after Judge Scheindlin found it to be unconstitutional. So does the PBA, which is now arguing keeping data on stops is throwing sand in the NYPD’s gears.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association swiftly condemned an order issued Nov. 20 by a Federal Judge concerning stop-and-frisk data that it said would further discourage “proactive policing in New York City.”

The directive from U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres requires the NYPD, in consultation with an outside monitor, to submit for approval a plan to implement “a program for systematically receiving, assessing, and acting on information regarding adverse findings on the conduct of police officers involving illegal stops or illegal trespass enforcements.”

The NYPD has been ordered to document its stops numerous times since the 2013 decision. And it has continued to fail to do so. Officers blame a lack of instruction and/or clarity from upper management. Upper management blames multiple court orders and outside oversight for its inability to deliver clear instructions. And the PBA blames the whole mess on officers being forced to engage in Constitutional policing, which apparently is the opposite of “proactive” policing.

What the PBA is agitating for is the return to halcyon days of stop-and-frisk when NYPD officers performed hundreds of thousands of stops a year, a majority of them targeting the city’s minorities. Constitutional policing would trim hundreds of man hours from the production of mandated reports, but the PBA wants nothing to do with keeping officers on patrol, rather than tied up doing internal bookkeeping for the DA’s office.

Judge Torres said she was requiring that the plan to provide extensive information on the program include “(a) declinations of prosecutions by the District Attorneys in New York City; (b) suppression decisions by courts precluding evidence as a result of unlawful stops and searches; (c) court findings of incredible testimony by police officers; (d) denials of indemnification and/or representation of police officers by the New York City Law Department; and (e) judgments and settlements against police officers in civil cases where, in the opinion of the New York City Law Department, there exists evidence of police malfeasance.”

The PBA’s response? To deride the accountability mandates as “unnecessary” — an abuse of the court’s “narrow authority” that will somehow wreak havoc on the NYPD’s rank-and-file. This production of information will “end proactive policing in New York City,” according to PBA president Pat Lynch.

Fortunately, Pat Lynch has long been recognized as a blowhard who seldom has the full support of the officers he represents. According to this report, the PBA was “quietly critical” of the PD’s stop-and-frisk program when it was being abused to its fullest extent. Now that it’s being deployed in a more Constitutional fashion — resulting in a severe decline in stops — the PBA wants to pretend the same program it criticized as “overused” is now a critical aspect of New York law enforcement.

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Comments on “New York Police Union Says More Reporting On Stops/Frisks Will Hurt The NYPD's Effectiveness”

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44 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Telling objections

If simply documenting what they are doing accurately is considered a hindrance to the point that it would interfere with (what they imagine are) their jobs then that seems a pretty blatant admission that what they are doing wouldn’t stand up under any scrutiny, and as such they almost certainly shouldn’t be doing it.

Someone for whom a gun is standard gear had damn well better be mentally competent enough to document what they do on the clock, and if the incredibly low bar of recording their own actions is too much then clearly the job they are in is far beyond their ability. Any ‘cop’ who finds something that pathetically simple too difficult to manage deserves to lose their job and/or be fired for gross incompetence.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Telling objections

From the article, I get the impression that it’s not a simple matter to document the stops.

If it’s 24 pages (in triplicate, with circles and arrows) that take half an hour to fill out properly, yes, I can see the point of the complaint.

If it’s half a page of simple stats and vitals, there’s probably no reason for complaint.

I’ve seen “behavior modification through clerical insanity” in the workplace before. Put ridiculous paperwork requirements in place and the work that requires said paperwork slows to a halt.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Telling objections

Yes. But if the officers are required to perform six per shift, and it takes an hour to document each, of course the Union (PBA, in this case) is going to blow a fit.

The cops are simply doing their jobs as they’ve been instructed to. It’s a bloody obvious 4th violation. So the policy needs to be killed off by court order, not the cops doing their jobs as instructed.

At the moment, it’s “legal”. There’s a LOT of this type of “legality” out there, where a powerful group decides that since it’s not explicitly banned, they can get away with it until it IS banned.

Don’t attack the street cops on this one – it’s the policy makers at fault. Most of whom are appointed or otherwise “untouchable”.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Telling objections

If there’s a court ruling forbidding a practice, anyone victimized by that practice has a powerful suit in the offing.

The cops aren’t biased to the extent screeched about in the press. If they patrol a low income neighborhood that is predominantly black, they’re not going to find many rich white people there.

And gangs are a low-income neighborhood problem. You don’t find them in high income areas. Well, the soldiers, you DO find the guys running the gangs in high income areas…

Bowery says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Stats driven management

Judge Torres is dope who thinks like a government bureaucrat — which is exactly what she is.

Bureaucrats love reports & paperwork, as solutions to problem.

Even if these police reports were filled out/submitted perfectly — who does she think will read, analyze, and properly act upon this massive amount of data ??
(certainly not her!)

NYC police problems have always been caused by corrupt senior management — fix that, Judge.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Badge on' does not equal 'brain off'

‘I was just following orders’ has never been an acceptable excuse. If, as you say(and I would agree) it’s a blatant violation and they do it anyway then they are just as much to blame as the ones telling them to do it.

If they refused en-mass to perform stop-and-frisks, potentially threatening to make a public scene about their refusal if it wasn’t revoked it would be gone overnight, ‘untouchable’ policy makers or not. That they continue to engage in it, and in fact their gorram union is whining about how it’s unfair that they have to document it when they do would seem to indicate quite well that while some of them may object to the practice, it’s not enough to actually object to it.

Peter (profile) says:

The NYPD is correct

The safest places on earth were the old communist police states and military dictatorships with unlimited powers for secret police, the military and the police.

If that the the NYPD’s vision for the future of America – go ahead with the efficiency drive at the expense of freedom and democracy. If not, we will need to have a debate about how to balance freedom and safety.

Anonymous Coward says:

"a majority of them targeting the city's minorities."

Just a bit of nitpicking here, but since non-white “minorities” constitute a majority of NYC’s population, then the majority of frisk stops would be expected to be against the non-white, even without any discrimination taking place.

https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/new-york-city-population/

But of course the reality is that young black men get cherrypicked by police especially hard, but it would be interesting to compare those numbers to crime statistics to see if they’re being under or over represented as likely criminal suspects. Israel’s use of demographics as a primary means of fighting crime/terrorism has drawn much international condemnation, despite its effectiveness, at least in the short term, as long term such discriminatory practices tend to cause the very problems they were supposed to prevent.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: "a majority of them targeting the city's minorities."

Last I saw (at the time of the lawsuit which curtailed stop and frisk), the claim was backed up by demographics that show that despite being the largest single ethnic group, Whites were stopped at least half as frequently per capita.

If I remember right, the lawsuit also noted that Whites were more likely to be arrested if stopped (likely because of actual suspicion). And that Whites were stopped below the actual demographic crime rate, while minorities were stopped above the demographic crime rate.

Likelihood of committing a crime is better mapped to income level than ethnicity, eliminating a lot of the variance in between ethnicity. And there are numerous long term self fulfilling cycles when you focus enforcement on those areas, as you note.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: "a majority of them targeting the city's minorities."

Agreed on the income level.

I’ve seen what are apparently the same stats on b/w stops. They’ve been collated and the actual areas of stops have been “munged” so you can’t see any finer than Precinct level.

You don’t see a lot of Eskimos arrested in Peking…

But if you’re in a neighborhood that is 90% black and arrests of blacks is 91%, you’re going to hear screeches of racism. Even if 100% of the arresting officers are black themselves.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "a majority of them targeting the city's minorities.

But if you’re in a neighborhood that is 90% black and arrests of blacks is 91%, you’re going to hear screeches of racism. Even if 100% of the arresting officers are black themselves.

While likely true, institutional racism is not limited to affecting the white members of the institution. But more pertinently, while extremism in outrage factions is certainly an amazing discussion, its not quite pertinent to the discussion at hand, and only serves to muddle the waters.

I noted in the second paragraph the demographic crime rate, not merely the population rates, which the AC also noted. I also combined that with the success rate. For simplicity, lets assume only 2 demographics, black and white. If for instance if Blacks in a neighborhood represent 60% of convictions (ignoring any economic factors), and we find that 75% of stop and frisks are black, but only 10% find evidence of a crime, and 30% of stop and frisks of whites find evidence of crimes, there seems to be an unfair level of targeting of blacks in that community. If we add that crime levels are not lower in this area since the policy went into place, its reasons are called into question. This is the way the statistics play with stop and frisk in New York. Its not one statistic. Its a combination of evidence that one demographic is targeted despite a higher likelyhood the stop wont turn anything up.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "a majority of them targeting the city's minorit

Firstly, let’s change your number of convictions to number of arrests. They’re different animals, and for the sake of the discussion of “stop & frisk”, there will be far more arrests than convictions.

You’re also falling into a statistical trap, where percentages are used to conceal the raw numbers.

If 10% of blacks are arrested and 30% of whites are arrested, what are the raw numbers?

I really doubt the number of stops is equal between the two. If the 10% is out of a pool of 1000, and the 30% is out of a pool of 12, the percentages don’t mean anything other than numbers to throw around to show how “unfair” something is.

In a predominantly Elboniam neighborhood, the preponderance of arrests are going to be of… Elbonians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "a majority of them targeting the city's minorities

"Likelihood of committing a crime is better mapped to income level than ethnicity"

Both are major factors, as are family and community. And "family income" may be a much bigger factor than personal income, since a high proportion of crimes are committed by 15-25 year olds, who are generally low-income even if college students.

The poorest people tend to be non-English speaking immigrants, but their rates of crime are not exceptionally high, particularly with Chinese immigrants, who appear to be an exceptionally low-crime ethnic group.

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/mojstats/stats-race-cjs-2010.pdf

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve always wondered if the problem with police unions is that, unlike traditional unions, it is not an organization of workers to better negotiate with management, but an organization of management and workers to negotiate with government.

Thus the police union acts like the law is negotiable because their entire job is to negotiate with the law.

ECA (profile) says:

Ditto...except

“from the ‘we’re-at-our-best-when-we’re-not-held-accountable’ dept”

Dont ask, dont tell??
no Pictures Please…this is NOT a famous black person..
J-walking,,,did you see that, did you record that?? Then I can arrest that person…(after beating them for not paying attention to me)
If you run, you are guilty…Of something, and I WILL find out, even if I have to steal your finger print to open your phone..Facial ID…NOT A PROBLEM..say cheese..
You walk funny, I need to Frisk you…What is thing, take it out…OH MY FRICKING GOOD…ITS A SNAKE.. BEAT IT, BEAT IT OFF …

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