Today, the Independent Monitor of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) released a report detailing a preliminary audit of the NYPD’s Neighborhood Safety Teams (NST). NST units deploy hundreds of officers across NYC’s boroughs to patrol neighborhoods and make arrests in unmarked vehicles. The controversial unit relaunched in March 2022 as a rebranded version of the “Anti-Crime Unit,” which received a staggering number of complaints on its dangerous practices over the years and was disbanded in August 2020 following racial justice protests. Within the report, the Independent Monitor notes the NST units engage in an elevated rate of constitutional violations and racially disparate policing.
The Independent Monitor’s report identifies various harmful and discriminatory practices of the units, such as:
In response to the release of the NYPD Independent Monitor’s report, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and The Legal Aid Society issued the following statements:
“The findings of the Independent Monitor’s report are painstakingly clear: New York City residents, disproportionately Black and Brown, are targeted and harassed by the NYPD’s Neighborhood Safety Teams unit, which is simply another iteration of the NYPD’s notoriously violent Anti-Crime unit,” said Charles McLaurin, senior counsel at the Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “For far too long, the NYPD has relied on these harmful, discriminatory tactics to push forward a flawed vision of safety that continues to harm its residents. We call for the City to put an end to these units for good. The City must advance a model of public safety that truly invests in the well-being of our neighborhoods and communities without relying on specialized units prone to harming those they are supposed to protect.”
“Our clients and all New Yorkers deserve to live their lives without the fear of being targeted by the hyper-aggressive policing tactics that the Neighborhood Safety Teams are quickly becoming known for,” said Molly Griffard, staff attorney in the Law Reform and Special Litigation Unit at The Legal Aid Society “Today’s report by the NYPD Monitor suggests that these new units are off to a troubling start with high rates of police misconduct and constitutional violations. These early audit results confirm what Legal Aid and other advocates feared when Mayor Adams created the units just over one year ago — that Neighborhood Safety Teams are, like their Anti-Crime and Street Crime Unit predecessors, rife with misconduct and prone to abuse the rights of the very people they are tasked with protecting.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. 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 Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF 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.