The secretive corporate outfit behind ‘Stand Your Ground’

For many years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been a particularly influential organization that has promoted the agenda of corporate America and the political right in state legislatures nationwide, but about which the public has known little. ALEC’s members, who work together to draft model bills, consist of state legislators, who pay little to join, and corporations and trade associations, who pay hefty membership fees. These fees purchase influence over ALEC’s agenda and access to lawmakers. Because ALEC’s issue-areas are quite broad – voter IDs, consumer protection, healthcare, education, the environment and guns, to name a few – not every ALEC bill connects to a particular company’s financial interests. Until now, associating with ALEC’s range of issues seems not to have been much of a problem for most companies, well worth the payoff of having their favored bills promoted. That’s why the stream of recent defections of some of ALEC’s highest-profile corporate members – McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Intuit and Kraft – has been so extraordinary.

The principal trigger, of course, has been the taint surrounding ALEC’S “Stand Your Ground” laws, the statute at the heart of the controversy over George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin. The business downside of associating with an organization pushing a law that seemingly turns a criminal perpetrator into a lawful executioner has apparently become too much for these companies, thanks to pressure from the civil rights and consumer community. That’s a good thing. But as we focus on Stand Your Ground laws, we shouldn’t lose sight of the breadth of ALEC’s damage around the country. In fact, some of the wider harm can be found in other parts of this very statute. This law does not just protect perpetrators. It is also a direct assault on crime victims themselves. Specifically, buried in ALEC’s Stand Your Ground laws – on the books in some form in about half the states in the U.S. – is a chilling measure that confers absolute civil immunity on perpetrators who successfully avoid arrest and prosecution under this law, stripping crime victims of their legal rights and access to the courts. This is important, because often in cases where the criminal justice system fails, families turn to the civil courts for help by bringing a civil suit against the perpetrators directly. This law blatantly tears away their constitutional rights.

In fact, preventing access to the civil courts for everyday Americans is a pervasive theme that runs through ALEC’s entire, corporate-backed agenda. ALEC has an entire division devoted just to preventing injured people from holding wrongdoers accountable in court. Its very active Civil Justice Task Force is co-chaired by Victor Schwartz, general counsel of the American Tort Reform Association, a corporate group seeking to limit the liability of its corporate members. The legislation generated by this task force has been nothing short of a gift to our nation’s most negligent companies, many of which have been successfully sued over and over for recklessly causing death and injury to their customers. In my conversation with the Florida Justice Association this week, I learned that Florida itself has over 18 such ALEC “tort reform” laws already on its books, with many more under consideration.

The problem with these laws is not only that they allow wrongdoers to escape accountability for what they do. They also discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age and income, issues not unlike those raised by the Travyon Martin case itself. For example, some ALEC bills target certain kinds of jury awards, specifically those that compensate for “non-economic” injuries like permanent disability, loss of a woman’s reproductive system, disfigurement, trauma, loss of a limb or blindness. When a bill passed Congress in 1996 that would make it more difficult to bring negligent product manufacturers to court (similar to various ALEC bills), President Bill Clinton vetoed the bill, stating that the legislation’s focus on non-economic damages was “especially unfair to senior citizens, women, children, who have few economic damages, and poor people.” In 2004, Representative John Conyers of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, issued a press statement titled, “Tort Reform Movement Has a Massively Disproportionate Impact on Minorities,” in which he stressed the harm that “restrictions on non-economic damages” were causing minorities.

Women are also disproportionately harmed by ALEC “tort” legislation. Some ALEC bills would go even further than federal bills and completely immunize the pharmaceutical industry for manufacturing unsafe drugs and medical devices, which they’ve brought to market under lax government rules. Michigan already has such a law, and ALEC-affiliated lawmakers have proposed this legislation in other states, like North Carolina. University of Buffalo law professor Lucinda Finley, who has written extensively about jury verdicts, found that: “Reproductive or sexual harm caused by drugs and medical devices has a highly disproportionate impact on women, because far more drugs and devices have been devised to control women’s fertility or bodily functions associated with sex and childbearing than have been devised for men.” History shows that many such drugs and devices were made safer only after women and their families filed lawsuits against those responsible. Immunizing the pharmaceutical industry means that women will no longer have any recourse. The same can certainly be said for the increasingly medicine-dependent senior citizen population.

These under-the-radar liability issues may not be garnering the same kind of public attention as some other ALEC priorities. But the concerns they raise are just as poignant. And they put at risk not only the rights of Trayvon Martin’s family but also those of every person living in this country.

By Joanne Doroshow April 13, 2012

Find this story at 13 April 2012

© Thomson Reuters

New York Police Ends Practice of Keeping Innocent New Yorkers in Stop-and-Frisk Database

In a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York City Police Department agreed to stop storing the names of people who were arrested or issued a summons after being stopped and frisked — and later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. For years, police have used the database to target New Yorkers for criminal investigations, even though it includes people who were victims of unjustified police stops. Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stops and frisks. The vast majority of those stopped have been black and Latino. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent. We speak to Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with a major development for opponents of New York City Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program. In a settlement announced Wednesday, the NYPD agreed to stop storing the names of people who were arrested or issued a summons after being stopped and frisked, and later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

For years, police have used the database to target New Yorkers for criminal investigations, even though it includes people who were victims of unjustified police stops. Since 2002, the police department has conducted over five million stops and frisks. The vast majority of those stopped have black and Latino. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent.

Two of the people at the center of the case spoke about what happened to them in 2010 in this video produced by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the case that was just settled. First we hear from Daryl Kahn, who was pulled over by two police officers in an unmarked van and issued a summons for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. That summons was later dismissed. We also hear from Clive Lino, who was issued a summons for spitting in public and possessing an open container. His charges were also dismissed.

DARYL KAHN: If I, riding my bike, legally, on the streets of New York, can end up in a database, some kind of secret police database with my private information in it, for doing nothing wrong, then anyone in the city can end up in that database.

CLIVE LINO: I’ve been stopped so many times that now I’ve lost count. It’s a waste of my time, and it’s an embarrassment, especially when you haven’t done anything at all. I get stopped just coming out of my building. [inaudible] and intimidated, harassed. I feel—I get, like, kind of on edge now when I see officers. I feel like I’m going to be stopped, like a hostage in my own neighborhood.

DARYL KAHN: I was running an errand for my sister in Brooklyn. I was riding my bike, when I was pulled over by a couple of members of the NYPD.

CLIVE LINO: Usually I’m not doing anything when I get stopped. And it proves it, because I’m usually let go.

DARYL KAHN: They started asking me a series of questions, none of which I felt comfortable with, since I hadn’t done anything wrong. When I protested, the—it counter-escalated. More police officers were called over.

CLIVE LINO: When I get a disorderly conduct summons, I’m just usually speaking up for myself, and the officers usually don’t like that.

DARYL KAHN: I was wrenched off the bicycle I was riding. I was slammed up against the van, had my arms wrenched behind my back. I was handcuffed, had my head slammed against the van repeatedly.

CLIVE LINO: No, I’m not a bad person. I don’t have a felony. I’ve never been to prison. I’m an honest, paying-tax citizen, and I hold a job. I just finished up my master’s degree at Mercy College. So, no, I’m not a bad guy.

AMY GOODMAN: The voices of Clive Lino and Daryl Kahn, who sued the New York Police Department over its stop-and-frisk database.

In related news, a federal judge is soon expected to issue a ruling in a major case challenging the constitutionality of the overall stop-and-frisk program.

Well, for more, we’re joined by Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. The New York Police Department did not response to our request for comment.

Donna Lieberman, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. Explain this settlement.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, this settlement follows a couple of years of litigation, and it’s an important victory for all New Yorkers because it really closes the last loophole in the NYPD stop-and-frisk database. A law was passed in 2010, signed into law by Governor Paterson, that prohibits the police department from maintaining the names and addresses of individuals who were stopped and frisked and not arrested. But people who were arrested and cleared of criminal wrongdoing have their names kept in the police department database, even though there’s a statute that says you have—when somebody has their charges dismissed or is exculpated, the database has to—all government databases have to be cleared with regard to the incident. So, the police department was doggedly holding onto this information, so we had to go to court. And finally, they agreed to settle it, after an appeals court said that we had valid claims.

AMY GOODMAN: So explain exactly who is in this database and how many people are in it.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, there were millions, five, six million people in the NYPD database. And the police department—Ray Kelly, in a letter to Pete Vallone a couple years ago, said, “And this is important for us to have, because it helps us to investigate crimes,” translates into rounding up the usual suspects. And there were many who believed that in fact the proliferation of stop and frisk of hundreds of thousands, millions of New Yorkers, who were so innocent that they walked away without even a summons, was prompted by the police department’s desire to get a database of all black and brown New Yorkers. Now, that may be a little bit extreme, but who knows? And who knows really how it was being used? What we do know is that the collateral damage of this stop-and-frisk program that targeted people of color, that is totally out of control, was this police database of innocent New Yorkers, and there’s no reason why there should be a permanent police file of innocent people by virtue of stop and frisk.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, as I said, we invited the New York Police Department on. The deputy commissioner, Paul Browne, couldn’t join us, but he did send the following comment. He wrote, quote, “As to the substance of the NYCLU’s claim today, the reality is that the NYPD had been in full compliance with the relevant law since it was passed by the New York State Legislature in 2010. Accordingly, there was no practical reason to continue this litigation. In other words, it’s been a moot point for three years.”

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Funny the court didn’t think so. And there are actually two laws at issue. One is the law that required the striking of personal information about people who weren’t arrested, and the other was an already existing law that required the sealing of records with regard to peoples who were—people who were arrested and who were exonerated through the court proceedings. And it was that law that the police department was not complying with. And if the police department wasn’t doing it, it’s sort of surprising that they didn’t decide to settle it a long time ago.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting. In The New York Times, a senior lawyer for the city, Celeste Koeleveld said that some of the information was already accessible to police officers through other databases. And she said, “At the end of the day, it just didn’t make sense to continue this particular litigation.” So, what does that mean? You can get the information anyway?

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, the 250s, the forms that the police are required to fill out, remain, you know, available to the police department, but they’re not an electronic database. What we had here was an electronic, easily searchable database that could pull up information in seconds. And that was the problem here. Of course, the police hold onto their, you know, records that they maintain on paper.

And, of course, by the way, the database is really, really important. It’s just not the personally identifiable information that’s important. The database tells us how many stop-and-frisks are going on and who they’re targeting. That’s how we have found out, that’s how New Yorkers know, that the program is out of control. So it’s really important to keep the information, but to keep it in an epidemiological kind of way, without personally identifiable information, so that—so that we can track this epidemic and not hurt people whose privacy rights are being impacted.

You know, stop-and-frisk hurts when it happens. And people are sometimes physically brutalized. People are subject to humiliation. Their dignity is just, you know, disrespected. And it’s a traumatic experience. The database is kind of the silent pain. It’s the silent harm of stop-and-frisk, because if by virtue of walking while black you’re put into a permanent police database of usual suspects, well, then that’s a scar that can hurt you at any time in your life.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s look at these numbers. In 2012, you have well over a half a million stops and frisks.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Mm-hmm.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s two years after the law. This doesn’t change the number of stops and frisks. And, of course, what, something like 90 percent were totally innocent, and 55 percent were African American, 32 percent Latino. This doesn’t change the stops and frisks; it’s just how they collect data on them.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Exactly. I mean, there are a lot of challenges going on to the NYPD stop-and-frisk program. There are three major class action lawsuits now pending in federal court: one that challenges the whole—the abuses in the stop-and-frisk program overall; one that challenges the—what’s called the Clean Halls program, which is stop-and-frisk abuse in the—in residential buildings, where landlords sign up for particular police protection, and the police have used this as a pretext to subject residents to all sorts of constitutional violations; and one that challenges a comparable program in public housing. We expect a ruling from the federal court, you know, about the constitutional violations that are part of the NYPD stop-and-frisk program any day, any week now, and that will be very, very important.

And, of course, there’s another aspect of the work that’s going on to rein in this out-of-control police department, which is the legislation that’s pending in the City Council. The City Council passed an inspector general bill, a racial profiling bill, with a supermajority on both. The mayor has promised to strong-arm one vote, so that his veto will not be overridden. And I think we’re convinced that the City Council is going to hold firm, and these historic pieces of legislation will override the veto, and that we’ll have a better framework for fair and just policing—and safe streets, by the way—in New York City at the end of the day.

AMY GOODMAN: What about Mayor Bloomberg’s response, who has said there aren’t enough stops and frisks?

DONNA LIEBERMAN: It’s hard to take that seriously. You know, even the RAND Corporation, which was commissioned to do the police department’s bidding in a report a few years ago, said that in a city this size you would expect maybe 250,000, 300,000 stop-and-frisks. You know, that was at a time when we only had like 400,000 or 500,000 going on. It’s like—it’s glib. It’s ludicrous. And you know what it says about the mayor? It says about the mayor that he just doesn’t get it, that he’s not black, he doesn’t understand the experiences of black parents who have to train their kids how to survive an encounter with the police, where they’re dissing you and you haven’t done anything wrong. I mean, he just doesn’t get it. And I’m confident that, you know, we’ll see major changes.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, his quote is quite something: “The numbers are the numbers, [and] the numbers clearly show [that] the stops are generally proportionate with suspects’ descriptions. And for years now critics have been trying to argue [that] minorities are stopped disproportionately,” he said. He said, “If you look at the crime numbers, that’s just not true. The numbers don’t lie,” he says, because these people who are stopped match descriptions. I mean, if you say, well, the word “black,” you arrest a lot of people in New York City, or you stop and frisk them.

DONNA LIEBERMAN: Sure, but you know what? The myth about stop-and-frisk is that it’s about stopping suspicious people. About 15 percent—I think my number is right—of the stops are of people who fit a suspect description. You know, the overwhelming majority are police-initiated on the street. And when so many of the people walk away from a stop, that’s supposed to be based on suspicious activity, without so much as a summons, in an era of broken-windows policing where they would—where they arrest people and give them a ticket for an open container or spitting on the sidewalk, like Clive Lino, that just—it’s hollow. This isn’t a program about stopping criminals. It’s not a program about frisking people with guns. This is a program about stopping and frisking people who are innocent, innocent New Yorkers who commit the crime of walking while black. And last I heard, that’s not a crime.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much, Donna Lieberman, for being with us. Donna Lieberman is the executive director of the New York City Civil Liberties Union. Stay with us.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Find this story at 12 August 2013

Judge Rules NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violates Rights; Outside Monitor Is Ordered to Oversee Changes to the Legally Challenged Practice

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacts to a federal court’s decision on the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practice, and outlines the reasons for appealing. Photo: Getty Images.

The New York Police Department violated the Constitution with its practice of stopping and searching people suspected of criminal activity, a federal judge ruled Monday in a decision likely to lead police departments across the country to take a close look at their crime-fighting tactics.

Finding that New York City’s so-called stop-and-frisk program amounted to “indirect racial profiling” by targeting blacks and Hispanics disproportionate to their populations, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the installation of the department’s first-ever independent monitor to oversee changes to its practices. City officials have argued that stop-and-frisk is a key component in their largely successful efforts to fight crime, but opponents have criticized it as a blatant violation of civil rights.

New York City officials immediately criticized the decision. “No federal judge has ever imposed a monitor over a city’s police department following a civil trial,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He said the city didn’t receive a fair trial, citing comments from the judge that he said “telegraphed her intentions,” and he said the city would seek an immediate stay while appealing the decision.

Mr. Bloomberg credited stop-and-frisk with helping drive crime in New York City to record lows. Murders in the city are at levels not seen in more than five decades, for instance. The mayor, who leaves office at year-end after three terms, predicted that should the judge’s decision stand, it could reverse those crime reductions “and make our city, and in fact the whole country, a more dangerous place.”

While New York’s stop-and-frisk practice is much more widely used than those in most other cities, police experts said the ruling is likely to lead police in other cities to tread more carefully in their own tactics.

“It’s definitely a wake-up call to any police chief in the country to be mindful to constitutional rights,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He added that “whether you do [stop-and-frisk] a little or a lot, because of this ruling, you have to be very cautious” about not violating those rights.

Pearl Gabel for The Wall Street Journal

Police stop a group in the Bronx in September 2012.

Police experts said the practice is larger and more coordinated in New York City, where on a daily basis extra patrol officers are sent into neighborhoods where crime patterns have been identified.

While officials in some cities said they wouldn’t be directly affected by the ruling, experts said the order for monitoring and other remedies in New York, including a pilot program in which officers will be equipped with “body-worn cameras,” is likely to be watched by city and police officials elsewhere.

“Even though the decision itself only applies to the NYPD, the fact that it’s the largest police department in the country and it is the NYPD means there will be a lot of publicity,” said Samuel Walker, a criminal-justice professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Omaha, who testified as a plaintiffs’ expert on police monitors at the trial.

Under the pilot camera program, officers in the precinct in each of the city’s five boroughs with the highest number of stops in 2012 will be required to wear the body cameras for a year. After that, the federal monitor will weigh whether the cameras reduced what the judge calls unconstitutional stops and if their benefits outweigh their costs.

The ruling has the potential to embolden civil-liberties groups to confront police departments in other urban areas where officers are stopping minority residents at a rate disproportionate to their population. Stop-and-frisk advocates say that could mean broader scaling back of what they view as a powerful crime-fighting tactic.
More Video

A federal court judge ruled the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice in violation of the United States Constitution, why small talk is actually a big deal, and will protein bars made with cricket flour sell in the U.S.? Photo: AP.

A federal court judge ordered an independent monitor to oversee reforms to the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practice after ruling it violated the U.S. Constitution. Tom Namako reports on Lunch Break. Photo: AP.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterates the success of stop-and-frisk and claims that New York is a “poster child” that the rest of the country looks up to. Photo: Getty Images.

The civil-rights lawsuit challenging the policy, one of three class actions before Judge Scheindlin, was brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of plaintiffs who had been stopped by the NYPD. “They did this because they believed what the NYPD was doing was wrong and they wanted it to stop,” said Darius Charney, an attorney at the center.

The judge’s decision Monday came three months after she heard nine weeks of trial testimony as part of the suit challenging the policy, in which officers have stopped and sometimes frisked about five million people since Mr. Bloomberg took office in 2002. One of the plaintiffs who testified in the trial, David Ourlicht, said he cried when he learned of the decision.

“It’s a big victory for New York. As far as America as a whole, it shows the polarization,” he said.

The other two class actions regarding the stop-and-frisk policy are pending trial.

Stops, by law, must be based on reasonable suspicion of a crime, a standard that city officials insist that NYPD officers have met. During testimony, it was revealed that more than 80% of those stopped were black or Hispanic, approximately 90% of whom were released after being found not to have committed any crimes.

The city argued during testimony that it focused a disproportionate share of its resources in minority neighborhoods with high crime rates and that its practices were “not racially biased policing.”

Judge Scheindlin stated in her decision that the city adopted a “policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data.” The result, she said, is “the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause” of the Constitution.

Associated Press

Judge Shira Scheindlin named a monitor to oversee stop-and-frisk.

Under a landmark 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Terry v. Ohio, police officers are allowed to stop those they have reasonable suspicion committed a crime or are about to commit a crime and frisk them if they have reasonable belief to think them armed or an imminent danger.

Police including the NYPD have been practicing stop-and-frisk for decades, but the practice has come under more scrutiny in New York since 2003, when the NYPD began to be required to report to the City Council the total stops made quarterly. That number had steadily escalated to more than 685,000 a year by 2012 before drastically dipping this year.

Police departments elsewhere say they are trying to balance the rights of citizens with their responsibility to fight crime.

Adam Collins, Chicago Police Department director of news affairs, said all police departments have procedures to question potential suspects when appropriate. He said the Chicago department “uses contact cards to document these interactions and does not engage in any form of racial profiling.”

Over the past two years, he said the CPD “has instituted additional training, mandatory for all officers, around how they are to interact with these individuals and the community to ensure a full understanding of the questioning and potential search.”

The New Orleans Police Department recently updated its stop-and-frisk policy. The tactic allows police officers to “frisk the outer clothing” of a person they believe to be involved in a crime, according to a statement from the office of New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu. If an officer “reasonably suspects the person possesses a dangerous weapon, he may search the person,” according to the statement.

—Meredith Rutland, Jacob Gershman and Tamer El-Ghobashy contributed to this article.

A version of this article appeared August 12, 2013, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Judge Reins In Frisking By Police.

NEW YORK
August 12, 2013
By SEAN GARDINER

Find this story at 12 August 2013

Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Stop-and-Frisk Data

The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino.

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports:

In 2002, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 97,296 times.
80,176 were totally innocent (82 percent).
In 2003, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 160,851 times.
140,442 were totally innocent (87 percent).
77,704 were black (54 percent).
44,581 were Latino (31 percent).
17,623 were white (12 percent).
83,499 were aged 14-24 (55 percent).
In 2004, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 313,523 times.
278,933 were totally innocent (89 percent).
155,033 were black (55 percent).
89,937 were Latino (32 percent).
28,913 were white (10 percent).
152,196 were aged 14-24 (52 percent).
In 2005, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 398,191 times.
352,348 were totally innocent (89 percent).
196,570 were black (54 percent).
115,088 were Latino (32 percent).
40,713 were white (11 percent).
189,854 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
In 2006, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 506,491 times.
457,163 were totally innocent (90 percent).
267,468 were black (53 percent).
147,862 were Latino (29 percent).
53,500 were white (11 percent).
247,691 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
In 2007, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 472,096 times.
410,936 were totally innocent (87 percent).
243,766 were black (54 percent).
141,868 were Latino (31 percent).
52,887 were white (12 percent).
223,783 were aged 14-24 (48 percent).
In 2008, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 540,302 times.
474,387 were totally innocent (88 percent).
275,588 were black (53 percent).
168,475 were Latino (32 percent).
57,650 were white (11 percent).
263,408 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
In 2009, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 581,168 times.
510,742 were totally innocent (88 percent).
310,611 were black (55 percent).
180,055 were Latino (32 percent).
53,601 were white (10 percent).
289,602 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
In 2010, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 601,285 times.
518,849 were totally innocent (86 percent).
315,083 were black (54 percent).
189,326 were Latino (33 percent).
54,810 were white (9 percent).
295,902 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
In 2011, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 685,724 times.
605,328 were totally innocent (88 percent).
350,743 were black (53 percent).
223,740 were Latino (34 percent).
61,805 were white (9 percent).
341,581 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 532,911 times
473,644 were totally innocent (89 percent).
284,229 were black (55 percent).
165,140 were Latino (32 percent).
50,366 were white (10 percent).

About the Data

Every time a police officer stops a person in NYC, the officer is supposed to fill out a form to record the details of the stop. Officers fill out the forms by hand, and then the forms are entered manually into a database. There are 2 ways the NYPD reports this stop-and-frisk data: a paper report released quarterly and an electronic database released annually.

The paper reports – which the N.Y.C.L.U. releases every three months – include data on stops, arrests, and summonses. The data are broken down by precinct of the stop and race and gender of the person stopped. The paper reports provide a basic snapshot on stop-and-frisk activity by precinct and are available here.

The electronic database includes nearly all of the data recorded by the police officer after a stop. The data include the age of person stopped, if a person was frisked, if there was a weapon or firearm recovered, if physical force was used, and the exact location of the stop within the precinct. Having the electronic database allows researchers to look in greater detail at what happens during a stop. Below are CSV files containing data from the 2011 electronic database.

Downloadable Files

Click here to download a compressed (.zip) CSV file of the 2012 database. This file is easily imported into most statistical packages, including the freeware R. It contains 101 variables and 532,911 observations, each of which represents a stop conducted by an NYPD officer. Variables include race, gender and age of the person stopped as well as the location, time and date of the stop.

Click here to download a PDF file of documents and notes that may clarify the dataset. The PDF includes a list and description of variables, a blank stop-and-frisk reporting form (UF-250) and other notes provided by the NYPD.

Find this story at 12 August 2013

And a pdf of the story

 

 

Judge Rules NYPD “Stop and Frisk” Unconstitutional, Cites “Indirect Racial Profiling”

In a historic ruling, a federal court has ruled the controversial “stop-and-frisk” tactics used by New York City Police officers are unconstitutional. In a harshly critical decision, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said police had relied on what she called a “policy of indirect racial profiling” that led officers to routinely stop “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stop-and-frisks. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers stopped and frisked have been innocent. In her almost 200-page order Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote, “No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life. … Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates the bedrock principles of equality.” She also appointed a federal monitor to oversee reforms, with input from community members as well as police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted angrily to the ruling and accused the judge of denying the city a fair trial. We’re joined by Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel on the case. “This is a victory for so many hundreds of thousands of people who have been illegally stopped and frisked over the last decade,” Patel says.
Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AARON MATÉ: We begin with a historic ruling in federal court that the stop-and-frisk tactics used by New York police officers are unconstitutional. In a harshly critical decision, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said police had relied on what she called a “policy of indirect racial profiling” that led officers to routinely stop “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Since 2002, the police department has conducted more than five million stop-and-frisks. According to the police department’s own reports, nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers [who] have been stopped and frisked have been innocent.

AMY GOODMAN: In her almost 200-page order, Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote, quote, “No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life. … Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates the bedrock principles of equality,” she wrote.

The ruling came after several months of testimony, much of it from eight plaintiffs who were all African American or Latino. Together they described a total 19 incidents in which they were stopped and, in some cases, searched and frisked unlawfully. Shortly after the decision was announced, the plaintiffs in the case held a news conference alongside their lawyers.

DAVID OURLICHT: When I got the call this morning, the first thing I did was cry. And it wasn’t—wasn’t because I was sad or necessarily happy, but because it was so—you know, I put everything to—you know, it’s important, and to know that it was recognized is just—it’s hard to explain. I think, actually, there is something else I have to say. I think it’s a really good picture of what’s going on in society. I mean, this is a big thing for New York, but as far as America as a whole, it shows the polarization of people of color in this country as how we’re viewed, you know, and I think it—I think it just needs to be recognized.

NICHOLAS PEART: You know, our voices do count, and count toward something, you know, greater. And, you know, this has been a long time coming, this case, and all the time that has been put into it and the sacrifices, you know, just taking off work and coming here and giving our testimony to, you know, a big issue that has transcended beyond communities of black and brown people. You know, this is an issue that folks in Tribeca now understand and folks in Soho now understand and have a really, really accurate understanding of this. You know, so I’m grateful for that and the attention that it has received. And, you know, I think it’s clear, you know, the psychological consequences of “stop and frisk” and it being a rites of passage for so many black and brown boys, and, you know, having this experience and being criminalized and, you know, how that carries on to their adult years. So I think we are taking some tremendous steps forward, and I’m definitely grateful for that.

DEVIN ALMONOR: I just feel glad that my—my lawyers, I commend them, and the judge, for doing an outstanding job on my behalf and the other plaintiffs’. And it’s just the beginning of, like, reparations. And with my case, I could have, like—I could have been like Trayvon Martin, because each—it was just too unbearable, and I could have been in his same place. And my heart goes out to his family. And it’s just—it’s just very hard to get through this, but with the help of my parents and my friends and my lawyers, they’ve done all that they can for me, and I love them so very much.

LALIT CLARKSON: In thinking about it, the reason why I joined on to this case was because many of us, including myself, feel like “stop and frisk” is police abuse, and that that’s the lowest level of police abuse. And once police abuse power when it comes to “stop and frisk,” then they can do it in terms of falsely arresting people, then they can do it in terms of planting evidence. And at the most extreme cases, they can do it in terms of killing people. So I think, for many of us here, including myself, this is important, because if we can find remedies to stop officers from violating our constitutional rights, then maybe other forms of police abuse, as it relates to people in my community and other community members, maybe some of that begins to stop.

LEROY DOWNS: Just really thankful for the people that believed in us, you know, that we weren’t making up these stories. We didn’t fabricate anything. We came to the table and said, “This is our experiences, and we’re speaking for millions of other people that are going through the same thing in this city.” And I’m just hopeful that—I know it’s premature, but I’m hopeful that the monitor—it’s not too much bureaucracy with the other city—court-appointed monitors, that we can really have some teeth in the legislation and really make changes to stop-question-and-frisk, and that the policies can actually change, man, like not just talk about change, but really change, really make those adjustments so that people can walk down the street or can stand in front of their house on a cellphone and not have to worry about, you know, being accused of being a drug dealer or something like that. So, I’m thankful to that. Thank you.

AARON MATÉ: Those are the voices of LeRoy Downs, Lalit Clarkson, Devin Almonor, Nicholas Peart, David Ourlicht, all plaintiffs in the stop-and-frisk lawsuit. In her ruling, Judge Scheindlin found, quote, “the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.” She also appointed a federal monitor to oversee reforms, with input from community members as well as police. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted angrily to the ruling and accused the judge of denying the city a fair trial.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court. We believe we have done exactly what the courts allow and the Constitution allow us to do, and we will continue to do everything we can to keep this city safe. Throughout the case, we didn’t believe that we were getting a fair trial. And this decision confirms that suspicion. And we will be presenting evidence of that unfairness to the appeals court.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. For more, we’re joined by Sunita Patel, staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, co-counsel on the case.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Your response to Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling?

SUNITA PATEL: It’s an astounding victory for everyone in New York City. She has very correctly and smartly decided that the city is engaging in racial profiling. And this is—it’s a victory for so many hundreds of thousands of people who have been illegally stopped and frisked over the last decade.

AMY GOODMAN: And to those who say that this is the reason crime is down and that the number of lives that have been saved from some—what did I hear one pundit quoting today?—3,000 in a year now down to 300 murders in a year, particularly in black and brown communities, that the number of black and brown lives saved is a result of this racial profiling?

SUNITA PATEL: Well, for one thing, there’s no empirical evidence linking “stop and frisk” to crime reduction generally. Secondly, you know, this is a tactic, that this murder rate reduction has been quoted in the news—I think it’s a little bit blurry. When this administration—that’s a statistic that spans the course of, you know, 15 years. It’s not something—it’s not within the time period that we’re talking about. When Mayor Bloomberg came into office, the murder rate was already down to some—to a very small number. So, they’re taking credit for something that happened way before them, and they’re blurring the math on this issue. In addition, the crime rates have been going down nationally for the last two decades, and there just isn’t a link between the two.

AARON MATÉ: Can you explain what Judge Scheindlin ruled in determining that “stop and frisk” violates the Fourth and 14th Amendment? And also talk about the remedies that she’s ordered.

SUNITA PATEL: Yes. In the Fourth Amendment claim, she’s saying that—she said that the city has a practice, a widespread practice, of going out and stopping people without individualized suspicion that there is crime afoot, which is what is required by the Supreme Court law in Terry v. Ohio. In the 14th Amendment claim, she’s saying that, look, many of these stops are not only based on—lack reasonable suspicion, but they’re on the basis of race. The city and the New York Police Department is using race as a proxy for crime. Rather than looking at what is this person doing specifically that would allow the police to stop them, they’re saying, “Because they’re black or brown in this area, we’re just going to stop them to try to prevent crime,” which is not—is not constitutional, it’s illegal.

And then, in terms of remedies, what she’s done is she said that she’s going to appoint a federal court monitor, which is very common in policing systemic reform cases to oversee the day-to-day activity of reforms. And she’s also said she wants a second phase of the reform, where community members get to have a stake in what reforms are going to happen. And she’s calling for a joint reform process that will have a facilitator, that allows—also allows the New York Police Department to have a seat at the table to say, “Hey, this is what we think would work. This is what we think wouldn’t work.” I mean, you know, this really should be seen as an opportunity by the police department.

AMY GOODMAN: Who will be the court-appointed monitor?

SUNITA PATEL: Someone named Peter Zimroth. He’s a partner at Arnold & Porter. We don’t know—you know, the plaintiffs’ counsel doesn’t—we didn’t have anything to do with this selection of the monitor, but we do know it sounds like he’s going to be very fair-minded. He’s a former corp counsel and just—attorney, and he’s a former district attorney. So, you know, in my mind, I would think that this is someone that the police department and the city should embrace working with, and we really hope that they will do that and decide not to appeal the judge’s very well-reasoned decision.

AMY GOODMAN: During a news conference Monday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly blasted the ruling and insisted New York City police officers do not engage in racial profiling.

COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY: What I find most disturbing and offensive about this decision is the notion that the NYPD engages in racial profiling. That simply is recklessly untrue. We do not engage in racial profiling. It is prohibited by law. It is prohibited by our own regulations. We train our officers that they need reasonable suspicion to make a stop, and I can assure you that race is never a reason to conduct a stop. The NYPD is the most racially and ethnically diverse police department in the world. In contrast with some societies, New York City and its police department have focused their crime-fighting efforts to protect the poorest members of our community, who are disproportionately the victims of murder and other violent crime—disturbingly so. To that point, last year 97 percent of all shooting victims were black or Hispanic and reside in low-income neighborhoods. Public housing, in just—with 5 percent of the city’s population, resides—experiences 20 percent of the shootings. There were more stops for suspicious activity in neighborhoods with higher crime because that’s where the crime is.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly speaking Monday. President Obama has indicated he may consider appointing Kelly the new secretary of homeland security, to which Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University and a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor, said, “Ray Kelly needs to be the Homeland Security secretary like Paula Deen needs to run the United Nations World Food Program.” He wrote, “Commissioner Kelly is the poster child for the most racially insensitive police practice in the United States, stop and frisk. During his term in office, the number of times police stop people on the street for questioning increased from about 100,000, in 2002, to almost 700,000 in 2011.” But Commissioner Kelly is saying that they are doing this in high crime communities and saving lives in those communities.

SUNITA PATEL: Well, you know, this is something that was analyzed ad nauseam by the court. We had two statistical experts that testified multiple times in the case, and she said, “This is just absolutely false.” She gave very little weight to this argument, because, in reality, the number of times that officers actually check the box on the UF-250 form, that says that they’re stopping someone based on a suspect description, is not that high. It’s between 10 and 15 percent, depending on the year. Instead, they check this box that says “high crime area.” And when our statistical expert analyzed each incident, from 2002 to June 2012, when that box was checked, you know, we found that when you control for all other factors, race is what is determinative, not—it’s not actually the area and the crime rate.

AMY GOODMAN: What about cameras?

SUNITA PATEL: So the judge has ordered the city to test out in a—and to do a study in an evaluation of body-worn cameras. This is something that has been done in, you know, a few small jurisdictions around the country and has had a favorable impact on the—reducing the number of complaints against police officers. Again, this is something that the police department, if it’s doing its job correctly and is actually not engaging in racial profiling, would actually help and support police officers when there are complaints filed against them. You would actually have a contemporaneous record of what’s going on. It’s similar in some ways to traffic cameras, that are becoming standard in many large urban jurisdictions where there are complaints against police officers.

AARON MATÉ: Now, the term itself, “stop and frisk,” can sound kind of harmless, you know, a “stop and frisk” or—it implies a pat-down. But what is the reality of this practice, that you see from talking to your clients?

SUNITA PATEL: I mean, the reality is—I mean, that’s a great question, because I think a lot of people think of it as a very just like blasé—it’s just a frisk, it’s just a pat-down. What we heard in the trial was testimony from 12 people who said, “Look, this is humiliating, this is degrading. This is something that no one should have to go through.” And even worse, it’s something that is—that an entire generation of black and brown people is becoming desensitized to.

We’re talking about something that is physically invasive and degrading. You know, this is an officer that’s saying, “Hey, put your hands against the wall,” and aggressively putting their hands over their bodies, down their waist, down their pant legs, both sides. And one of our plaintiffs—or one of our witnesses even testified about, you know, being grabbed in the groin area. And he felt—on his 18th birthday. And he just felt that this was so humiliating. He filed a complaint. And, you know, at that young age, to even—to bring that forward and to make that kind of claim and then feel that that was—that the officer was not held accountable, I mean, it really has a lasting detrimental impact on the relationship between the police and the community.

AMY GOODMAN: So what happens from here? The city says they’ll appeal.

SUNITA PATEL: The city says they’ll appeal. As I said earlier, I really hope that after they carefully consider the decision, they’ll decide not to. However, you know, they may appeal. Apparently, Michael Cardozo said that they’re considering when they can appeal. It’s not clear if they can appeal yet. And they will likely file a stay, which is something asking for the court—they’ll ask Judge Scheindlin to stay her injunction, so that they don’t have to do anything right now.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much, Sunita, for joining us. Sunita Patel is a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, co-counsel on the stop-and-frisk federal action lawsuit. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a Democracy Now! exclusive. Stay with us.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Find this story at 13 August 2013

Exclusive: Doreen Lawrence pledges to condemn ‘racial profiling’ spot checks in the House of Lords

Equalities watchdog says it will investigate the operations, with one member of the public saying it was akin to ‘Nazi Germany’

The Home Office faces investigation by the equalities watchdog over stop-and-check operations condemned by new Labour peer Doreen Lawrence.

The Independent revealed today that officials had conducted a series of “racist and intimidatory” spot checks to search for illegal immigrants in the wake of the Government’s “go home or face arrest” campaign.

Officers wearing stab vests conducted random checks near stations in the London suburbs of Walthamstow, Kensal Green, Stratford and Cricklewood over the past three days. Nationwide, more than 130 alleged “immigration offenders” have been arrested including in Durham, Manchester and Somerset.

Speaking this morning Mrs Lawrence said: “Why would you focus mainly on people of colour?

”I’m sure there’s illegal immigrants from all countries, but why would you focus that on people of colour, and I think racial profiling is coming into it.“

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, asked if the spot-checks were a cause for her to take up in her new role in the House of Lords, replied: ”Definitely so.“

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, said she had received reports from constituents who had been stopped at around 7am yesterday outside the train station by a team of around a dozen Home Office officials.

“I’ve been told they were only stopping people who looked Asian or African and not anyone who was white,” she said. “This kind of fishing expedition in public place is entirely unacceptable. I will not have my constituents treated in such a manner.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is now set to look into what happened, as well as the Government’s controversial poster van warning immigrants of the risk of staying in Britain illegally.

A spokesman said: ”The Commission is writing today to the Home Office about these reported operations, confirming that it will be examining the powers used and the justification for them, in order to assess whether unlawful discrimination took place.

“The letter will also ask questions about the extent to which the Home Office complied with its public sector equality duty when planning the recent advertising campaign targeted at illegal migration.”

The Home Office denied that its raids were connected to the “go home” vans. However, officials could provide no evidence of similar “random searches” taking place in the past.

Onlookers described their shock at the operations, with one member of the public saying it was akin to “Nazi Germany”. The Labour MP Barry Gardiner had written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, demanding an investigation into the checks which he said violated “fundamental freedoms”. The raids come just a few months after Ms May took direct responsibility for immigration from the disbanded UK Border Agency.

“We do not yet live in a society where the police or any other officers of the law are entitled to detain people without reasonable justification and demand their papers,” Mr Gardiner wrote. “The actions of your department would however appear to be hastening us in that direction.”

Witnesses who saw the operations in London claimed the officers stopped only non-white individuals, and in Kensal Green said that when questioned, the immigration officials became aggressive.

Phil O’Shea told the Kilburn Times: “They appeared to be stopping and questioning every non-white person, many of whom were clearly ordinary Kensal Green residents going to work. When I queried what was going on, I was threatened with arrest for obstruction and was told to ‘crack on’.”

Another witness, Matthew Kelcher, said: “Even with the confidence of a free-born Englishman who knows he has nothing to hide, I found this whole experience to be extremely intimidating. They said they were doing random checks, but a lot of people who use that station are tourists so I don’t know what message that sends out to the world.”

The Home Office said a Ukrainian woman aged 33, an Indian man aged 44 and a 59-year-old Brazilian woman had been detained as part of the checks at Kensal Green. At Walthamstow Central station, immigration officials arrested 14 people after officers questioned people to check if they were in the UK illegally.

Christine Quigley tweeted: “Sounds like UKBA checkpoint today in Walthamstow only stopping minority ethnic people. FYI UKBA – not all British people are white.”

In Stratford, photographs posted on Twitter appeared to show Home Office officials talking to men of Asian origin. The Home Office said a Bangladeshi man had been arrested on suspected immigration offences. In Cricklewood on Tuesday in a joint operation with the Met, more than 60 people were questioned near the railway station. Police said three men were arrested for “immigration matters”, and 27 men received notices requiring them to surrender at Eaton House immigration centre for further investigation.

Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said he believed that there was no coincidence between the “go home or face arrest” van and the new random checks in Kensal Green. “I am sure it is probably connected and it leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth,” he said. “These so-called spot checks are not only intimidating but they are also racist and divisive. It appears from speaking to people who witnessed what happened in Kensal Green that it was only black and Asian-looking people who were asked to prove their identity. What about the white Australians and New Zealanders who may have overstayed their visas?”

Oliver Wright, Adam Withnall
Friday, 2 August 2013

Find this story at 2 August 2013

© independent.co.uk

Misuse of stop and search powers risks undermining police, says watchdog

Police watchdog report says many forces do not understand how to use powers effectively nor their potential impact

Home Office figures show that black people are still seven times more likely to be searched on the street than white people. Photograph: Stuart emmerson/Alamy

The misuse of “intrusive and contentious” stop and search powers is threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the police, an official watchdog has warned.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says that most (30) of the 43 forces in England and Wales do not understand how to use stop and search powers effectively nor the impact their use has on the communities being policed.

The official report also says that the priority given by senior police officers to improving the use of stop and search powers has slipped down the agenda since the publication in 1999 of the official inquiry report into the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Home Office figures show that black people are still seven times more likely to be searched on the street than white people.

The HMIC report, published on Tuesday, was commissioned by the home secretary, Theresa May, in response to renewed concern about the way the police use stop and search powers in the wake of the 2011 August riots.

The home secretary anticipated one of the report’s key findings last week when she launched a six-week consultation over the future use of the powers, saying the fact that only 9% of the 1.2m stop-and-searches that take place every year led to an arrest had caused her to question whether it was being used appropriately.

The HMIC inquiry, which included a public survey of 19,000 people, found that too many forces are not collecting sufficient information to assess whether the use of the powers has been effective.

It says that 27% of the 8,783 stop-and-search records examined by HMIC did not include sufficient grounds to justify the lawful use of the powers.

“The reasons for this include poor understanding among officers about what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds’ needed to justify a search, poor supervision, and an absence of direction and oversight by senior officers,” says the report.

The report adds that fewer than half the forces complied with a requirement for stop and search activities to be open to public scrutiny.

It describes the street stop and search powers under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) as “some of the most intrusive and contentious powers granted to the police” and warns that although some might think it will help to “control the streets” in the short term, its heavy-handed use may lead to major disorder in the long term.

Stephen Otter of HMIC said urgent action was needed to tackle the lack of understanding of the powers to prevent and detect crime. He said the investigation found that the exercise, recording, monitoring, supervision and leadership oversight of the use of stop and search powers all too often fell short of the Pace codes of practice, which set the standards to ensure the powers were not used unlawfully and incorrectly.

Tom Winsor, the chief inspector of constabulary, said: “The police service in the UK is almost unique in investing its lowest ranking officers with its greatest and most intrusive powers. These include those of stop and search.

“The lawful and proper use of the powers is essential to the maintenance of public confidence and community acceptance of the police, without which the British model of policing by consent cannot function.

“It is therefore crucial that police officers can show, with the greatest transparency, that they use these powers with the utmost lawfulness and integrity at all times,” said Winsor.

A Home Office spokesperson said the home secretary had made clear that the government supports the ability of police officers to stop and search suspects within the law.

“But if stop and search is being used too much or with the wrong people, it is not just a waste of police time, it also serves to undermine public confidence in the police,” he said.

He added that specific proposals in response to the report and the public consultation would be published by the end of the year.

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
The Guardian, Tuesday 9 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

A quarter of police stop and searches are illegal: 250,000 people are stopped without officers sticking to the rules

In 27 per cent of cases police did not have reasonable grounds
This is the same as 250,000 people every year being stopped and searched
The report warns of the potential to stir-up significant social unrest

More than a quarter of police stop and searches are ‘unlawful’ and risk promoting ‘major disorder’, government inspectors warned last night.

In a blistering report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary said that, in 27 per cent of cases, police failed to show they had reasonable grounds to carry out the search.

It is the equivalent of 250,000 people every year being stopped and subjected to hugely intrusive searches without the police sticking to the rules.

In 27 per cent of cases, police failed to show they had reasonable grounds to carry out the searches

Legally, nobody should be stopped unless there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ they are guilty of carrying drugs, weapons or intending to carry out a burglary or other crime.

The report – commissioned in the wake of the 2011 riots – warns of the potential to stir-up significant social unrest.

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It states: ‘Apart from the fact that it is unlawful, conducting stop and search encounters without reasonable grounds will cause dissatisfaction and upset, and whilst some may think it will help to ‘control the streets in the short term’, it may lead to major disorder in the long-term’.

The HMIC report, led by ex-chief constable Stephen Otter, is also hugely critical of the way police are targeting their resources.

Most police forces said their priorities were reducing burglary, theft and violence.

Yet only nine per cent of stop and searches focussed on finding weapons, and 22 per cent were for stolen property or going equipped to steal.

By contrast, half of operations were targeted on possession of drugs – usually only small amounts which would only result in a police warning.

Theresa May warned that police could be wasting hundreds of thousands of hours by interrogating stopping people who had done nothing wrong

The report will increase the clamour for a major scaling back of the stop and search regime.

Last week Home Secretary Theresa May warned that police could be wasting hundreds of thousands of hours by interrogating stopping people who had done nothing wrong.

Last year, police conducted 1.2million stop and searches – but only nine per cent, or 107,000, ended in arrest.

In some parts of the country, the figure is as low as three per cent, raising huge question marks over whether the power is being properly used.

The HMIC warned of a ‘noticeable slippage’ in attention given to the use of stop and search powers by senior officers since the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

Mr Otter warned that use of the powers was becoming a ‘habitual’ practice

Around 27 per cent of the 8,783 stop and search records examined by inspectors did not include sufficient grounds to justify the lawful use of the power.

Police officers are able to conduct stop and searches under 20 different powers, but the most common laws used are the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

The report found that less than half of forces complied with the requirements of the code to make arrangements for stop and search records to be scrutinised by the public.

And half of forces did nothing to understand the impact on communities.

The inspection found that the majority of forces – 30 out of 43 – had not developed an understanding of how to use the powers of stop and search so that they are effective in preventing and detecting crime.

Only seven forces recorded whether or not the item searched for was actually found, the study found.

Mr Otter warned that use of the powers was becoming a ‘habitual’ practice that was ‘part and parcel’ of officers’ activity on the streets.

Last night a Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Home Secretary has made it very clear that the Government supports the ability of police officers to stop and search suspects within the law.
‘But if stop and search is being used too much or with the wrong people, it is not just a waste of police time, it also serves to undermine public confidence in the police.

‘That is why last week the Home Secretary announced a public consultation into the use of stop and search.

‘The Government will respond to the HMIC report and the replies to the public consultation with specific proposals by the end of the year.’

By James Slack

PUBLISHED: 00:03 GMT, 9 July 2013 | UPDATED: 06:30 GMT, 9 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

Police watchdog: the Met is failing to tackle complaints of racism

Warning: IPCC says racism complaints are being thrown out on the basis of an officers denial of them

The Met is failing to tackle complaints of racism properly and needs a major “cultural change” to improve the way it deals with London’s minorities, the police watchdog said today.

In a highly critical report, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said that Met investigators were often wrongly rejecting allegations of racism simply on the basis of an officer’s denial.

It warns that other complaints are being thrown out because of the “unwillingness or inability” of officers to pursue them and highlights a further widespread failure to follow official guidelines when investigating alleged racist conduct.

The report said that instead, the force tends to respond only to “overt” racism such as use of “n****r” and when other evidence such as mobile phone footage or whistleblower testimony is provided.

The findings, which will raise concerns about the force’s progress since being labelled “institutionally racist” in Sir William Macpherson’s report following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, came as the watchdog also revealed details of new racism cases within the Met. Today’s report discloses that:

Two thirds of appeals over racism complaints rejected by the Met were upheld by the watchdog last year.

The Met has little understanding of covert or subconscious racism by officers.

Complainants’ perceptions of racism are often not taken seriously.

Letters sent to complainants are regularly blighted by jargon, are defensive and fail to deal with specifics.

Unveiling today’s report, Deborah Glass, the IPCC’s commissioner for London, said that racism remained a “toxic” issue for the Met and that big changes were urgently needed.

“There is an enormous amount of guidance out there which the Met’s officers are not following and the only way to change that is through cultural change,” she said. “If the Met Commissioner wants to be credible when he says that there is zero tolerance of racism in the force then his officers need to understand what racism is.”

Ms Glass said that dealing with complaints of racism against officers properly was vital to public confidence in London because of the large ethnic population and the lack of faith among some residents in police attitudes. She added: “Race is an incredibly sensitive and sometimes toxic issue for the Met as we have seen over decades. They have made progress, but there is still some way to go.”

The report comes after a year-long inquiry by the IPCC following a spate of highly publicised racism allegations against the Met. One of those resulted in the dismissal of Pc Alex MacFarlane for gross misconduct despite his acquittal at Southwark crown court last year over an alleged racially aggravated public order offence involving the alleged use of racist language against a 21-year-old man.

The report is based on an analysis of 511 racist allegations against Met officers or staff made by the public in 2011/12, plus monitoring of 61 cases referred to the IPCC in April and May last year and a detailed study of 20 other complaint files.

It found that although cases passed to Scotland Yard’s directorate of professional standards were generally dealt with well, those resolved at borough level — which form the majority — were poorly handled.

The report said that officers were “routinely asked for brief accounts via email” rather than being questioned on specifics and that a denial frequently resulted in a complaint being rejected with not enough weight placed on the complainant’s account.

Met Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said that he was summoning all 32 borough commanders and other senior officers to study the findings in one of a series of measures to improve the force’s performance.

He added that all investigations into racism complaints would also be overseen by Scotland Yard for the rest of the year to raise standards, but conceded that the Met was failing the public over the issue. Victims of racism by police will also be invited to meet senior officers to talk about their experiences to “help our understanding” of the problem, Mr Byrne said.

Martin Bentham

Published: 17 July 2013

Updated: 15:41, 17 July 2013

Find this story at 9 July 2013

© Evening Standard Limited

Ongewenste fouillering in de Pijp (Amsterdam)

Een oude man met trillende handen en een wandelstok, een oma, een meisje van 14, een moeder en een keurige meneer. Wat hadden ze gedaan? Blijkbaar iets want ze werden door de politie gefouilleerd op verboden wapenbezit. In het kader van een preventie fouilleer actie ging de politie met man en macht aan de gang om iedereen in de Pijp te fouilleren. Het was een intimiderend gezicht en niet alleen dat het voelde heel bedreigend, zoals ik zelf aan de lijve ervaarde. “Ja mevrouw”, zei een agent, ” dat moeten we doen want er zijn dit jaar al vier moorden gepleegd in de Pijp en om niemand te discrimineren, fouilleren we iedereen.” Natuurlijk, heel logisch!!! Heel logisch om de pret van mensen die lekker wat aan het drinken of eten zijn te onderdrukken en heel logisch om ook mensen angstig te maken. De één vond het misschien wel grappig, maar een ander had duidelijk last er van vanwege een trauma of iets dergelijks. Maar ja, die oude en trillende man zou natuurlijk een moordenaar kunnen zijn en onder onze strakke zomerjurkjes kan wel eens een wapen verborgen zijn…

Weigering

Ik vraag me af wat deze actie voor zin had – zoveel onschuldigen lastigvallen met de nodige paniek hier en daar om zogenaamd moorden te voorkomen… De echte wapenbezitters zijn al lang verdwenen als ze die busjes en al die agenten zien met de gele hesjes aan. Eerst waren ze in het Sarphatipark geweest, toen in de Mc Donalds en nu op het Heinekenplein waar ik met wat vrienden en familie gezellig een borrel zat te drinken. Ook wij moesten gefouilleerd worden, mijn nekharen stonden meteen overeind en mijn gevoel van onrechtvaardigheid kwam naar boven; dit klopt niet! Ik wil helemaal niet gefouilleerd worden. Ik zei dit ook tegen de agenten, die eerst zeiden dat ze dat natuurlijk begrepen, maar het was verplicht en ze gaven me een folder die dat duidelijk maakte. Niet dus – en o ja de burgemeester had in deze actie toegestemd, dus dan moest ik toch eraan mee doen. “En als ik het niet doe”, zei ik. Nou, dan moesten ze me aanhouden en meenemen naar bureau, waar ik een veroordeling kon verwachten en een boete van minstens 300 euro. “Nou”, zei ik, “neem me dan maar mee” en ik was benieuwd tot hoever deze poppenkast zou doorgaan. Het was toch van de zotte dat ik gestraft kon worden. Ik heb toch een recht van weigeren. Nee, blijkbaar niet – en het was dat mijn dochter erbij was die mij smeekte om toch mee te werken, anders was ik mee gegaan naar het bureau. “Ach”, zei een agent, “houdt het toch gezellig mevrouw”. Gezellig zeg je, ik had het heel gezellig tot jullie aan die intimiderende actie begonnen.

Onderscheidend vermogen

Wat is er met het onderscheidend vermogen van de politie gebeurt, dat ze niet kunnen zien dat onze groep met een paar oma’s, jonge meiden en doodgewone moeders geen dreiging vormen. Nee, het was allemaal in het kader van het voorkomen van discriminatie! Ik vraag je: is dat het waard dat je dan zoveel emotionele onrust veroorzaakt en hartaanvallen riskeert van doodgewone mensen die niet begrijpen wat er gebeurt.. Is dit dan die politiestaat die we vreesden. Het lijkt er wel op – ik durf de stad niet meer in te gaan, bang dat dit nog een keer gebeurt. Ik slaap vannacht heel onrustig, alleen al door de frustratie. Welke onzinnige bureaucraat heeft dit nu weer verzonnen? Kan dit dan zo maar?

Manon Tromp
Amsterdam

Police up to 28 times more likely to stop and search black people – study

Human rights watchdog warns of ‘racial profiling’ as data reveals under 3% of stop and searches leads to an arrest
Vikram Dodd

A Metropolitan officer is allegedly about 30 times more likely to use section 60 to stop a black person than a colleague outside London. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Police forces are up to 28 times more likely to use stop-and-search powers against black people than white people and may be breaking the law, new research from the official human rights body reveals.

The research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) looked at police stop powers where officers do not require suspicion of involvement in crime, known as section 60 stops.

The power is used most by the Metropolitan police, which carried out three-quarters of the stops between 2008-11, some 258,000 in total. The next heaviest user was Merseyside with 40,940 stops. Some forces barely use the power.

Thus what the Metropolitan police does can skew the national picture and the data shows a Met officer is about 30 times more likely to use section 60 to stop a black person than a colleague outside London.

The figures show how often black Britons experience stop and search through section 60 alone, never mind the more commonly used other stop-and-search powers. The EHRC found that in 2008-09, the Met stopped 68 out of every 1,000 black people in its area. This fell to 32.8 per 1,000 by 2010-11. In the rest of England, the figure was down to 1.2 stops per 1,000 black people by 2010-11.

Section 60 of the 1994 Public Order Act was introduced to target originally brought in to tackle people going to illegal raves. It gave police the power, if they feared violence or disorder, to stop and search suspects at a specific time and place.

Most stops in England and Wales require an officer to have “reasonable suspicion” that someone is involved in crime. Section 60 gives an officer maximum discretion and privately police fear its wide-ranging nature and the discretion it gives officers, plus the allegations it is being abused, may lead the courts to strike it down – as happened with section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which had to be reformed after the courts ruled its provision allowing stops without suspicion was too wide-ranging.

The EHRC notes that while the overall use of section 60 had fallen, excessive use of the power against ethnic minorities, known as racial disproportionality, had continued or even increased. The report found a rise in the percentage of ethnic minorities among those stopped under section 60 between 2008-11, from 51% to 64%.

The commission said the police may be breaching their legal responsibilities, known as the public-sector equality duty: “Any continuing and serious disproportionate use of these powers against ethnic minorities may indicate that the police and Home Office are not complying with their public-sector duties obligations.”

The worst rates of racial disproportionality were outside London, according to the EHRC. An officer in the West Midlands was 28 times more likely to stop and search a black person than a white person, in the Greater Manchester force the figure was 21 times, in the Met 11 times, and for British Transport police the figure was 31 times.

Nationally, the EHRC said black people were 37 times more likely to be stopped and searched under section 60 than white people in 2010-11. From 2008 to 2011, the racial disproportionality worsened for the Met and West Midlands forces, while Greater Manchester’s disproportionality rate in 2008-9 was 44.9 times greater, which had been halved three years later.

Racial disproportionality meant an officer was 10 times more likely to stop Asian Britons than a white person, with the worst offender being West Midlands police.

The EHRC said through section 60 alone ethnic minorities underwent more than 100,000 excessive searches over 2008-11.

Figures also show that section 60 may be ineffective in fighting crime. According to the report: “In England as a whole, only 2.8% of [section] 60 stops and searches resulted in an arrest in 2008-09 and this decreased to 2.3% in 2010-11. Of these, fewer than one in five arrests were for offensive weapons.”

The fact that arrest rates are similar for black and white Britons suggests problems in how police use the power, the EHRC said: “The lack of a significant difference does not prove that black people are not inappropriately targeted.”

Simon Woolley, a commissioner at the EHRC, said: “Our research shows black youths are still being disproportionately targeted, and without a clear explanation as to why, many in the community will see this as racial profiling.

“Moreover, police data itself questions the effectiveness of this practice. Some forces are using 200 or 300 stops before arresting an individual over a weapon.

“We are encouraged at least that the Met seek to review the practice with a clear objective that avoids the crude measure of racial profiling and focuses on intelligence-led policing.”

The Met is being threatened with a legal challenge over allegations that it discriminates in its use of section 60 stop and search. The commission has previously said it believes the Met’s use of section 60 is unlawful.

The Met said it was reforming its use of the power and would aim to make it more focused on tackling violence and reduce the number of stops carried out.

However, in a statement, the Met’s deputy commissioner, Craig Mackey, who speaks on stop-and-search issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “Chief officers support the use of stop and search as these powers are critical in our efforts to tackle knife, gun and gang crimes.

Find this story at 12 June 2012

The Guardian, Tuesday 12 June 2012

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