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NYT: At Council Hearing on Stop-and-Frisk Policy, the Police Stay Silent

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A City Council hearing on the New York Police Department’s use of its controversial “stop, question and frisk” policy in public housing became a one-sided affair on Tuesday, after police and housing officials declined to testify.

Officials with both agencies cited pending federal litigation surrounding the policy in deciding not to appear. The officials said they had intended to testify when the hearing was to examine a wide range of policing initiatives in New York City Housing Authority developments.

But on Sept. 20, the Police Department was notified by Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s office by telephone that the hearing would be restricted to questions on the stop, question and frisk policy, and that broader questions of safety would be addressed at a separate hearing, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman.

“We were told then,” Mr. Browne said, “that the speaker understood that the N.Y.P.D. wouldn’t be able to participate at a hearing devoted strictly to a matter being litigated.”

The explanation failed to satisfy Ms. Quinn and other council members, who were critical of both agencies but who focused their pique on the police. The anger reflected long-running frustration between some on the Council and the department over its stop, question and frisk policy.

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