Last night, the attorneys behind three landmark class actions that challenged the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk and trespass enforcement practices as racially discriminatory and unconstitutional further urged the federal court to order the NYPD to implement reforms generated through community input. The civil rights attorneys first requested the order in June, when the facilitator overseeing the community input process issued a report on his reform recommendations to the court. Today, they responded to NYPD’s opposition to these reforms.
“For years, New Yorkers of color and public housing residents were victimized by the NYPD’s discriminatory trespass enforcement practices. These impacted communities gave their time and energy to developing much-needed reforms, and now the Court must put their voices front and center by ordering the NYPD to implement the changes they developed,” said Angel Harris, Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
The facilitator’s reform recommendations were designed based on input from those directly affected by the NYPD’s practices. Attorneys say they are intended to develop a more thorough set of reforms than what was previously ordered by the court, which required changes to certain NYPD written procedures and training materials. The NYPD has opposed the facilitator’s proposed reforms, which include progressive discipline standards for officers who violate peoples’ rights during stop encounters, documenting police encounters that are not currently required to be documented, a community board and survey to assess the NYPD’s implementation of the court-ordered reforms, and improved information on people with disabilities in stop-and-frisk training.
“The court recognized the need for input from directly-affected communities when it ordered this process as part of the remedy for the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices. Yet the NYPD has objected to implementing any reform ideas that have come from those communities,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Darius Charney. “Simply put, without these reforms the NYPD cannot bring its stop-and-frisk and trespass enforcement practices into constitutional compliance.”
“The NYPD has suggested that they are agreeing to many of the reforms proposed by the Facilitator to end stop and frisk, when in fact they have opposed most of the recommendations and argued that they should not be ordered to implement any of them,” said Jenn Rolnick Borchetta, Deputy Director of Impact Litigation at The Bronx Defenders. “We continue to hold that these reforms are necessary to end unlawful stops and without them, the constitutional violations proven at trial will simply continue.”
The community input process, known as the Joint Remedial Process (JRP) was ordered by the court to remedy the NYPD’s constitutional violations. Over three years, the JRP, collected input from thousands of people from communities impacted by the NYPD’s practices, along with elected officials, religious and academic leaders, and NYPD representatives. It involved 64 focus groups and 28 community forums across the city.
“For too long, New Yorkers have been subjected to discriminatory, overzealous policing in their neighborhoods and even in their buildings and homes,” said Jordan Wells, staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Community members have long called for an end to unconstitutional NYPD policies and practices, including through litigation and the court-ordered remedial process. The court now has the opportunity and obligation to ensure that these critical reforms are implemented.”
Read today’s filing here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.