NEW YORK, NY (AP) - New York City's reliance upon the tactic of'stop and frisk' as part of a newly launched initiative to combat gun crime is harming the communities of color. It also runs afoul the law.
Mylan Denerstein, a monitor with the NYPD's Neighborhood Security Teams, said that the special units had been deployed over the past 14-months to seize weapons in high crime areas. He claimed the NYPD was engaging in unconstitutional police work by frisking and stopping too many people.
Denerstein reported that only 41 percent, 32 percent, and 26 percent, respectively, of the stops, frisks, and searches in one police precinct were legal.
The Neighborhood Safety Teams are a replacement to the anti-crime unit that the NYPD will disband in 2021. They operate in 34 communities that account for 80 percent of violent crimes in the city, which is largely made up of people of color. Denerstein stated that 97% of the people stopped by the Neighborhood Safety Teams are Black or Hispanic.
A spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams stated that city officials have'serious concerns' about Denerstein's method and they only found out of her findings when news outlets reported them.
Since the Neighborhood Safety Teams have been created, Fabien levy, the spokesperson, has said that shootings are down.
Levy stated that officers assigned to these units have a heightened level of training and oversight in order to protect civil liberties and ensure New Yorkers' safety. He added that any unconstitutional stops are unacceptable and they will continue to strive to improve for New Yorkers.
Denerstein stated that she started her review in March 2022, after Adams announced the NYPD would be deploying Neighborhood Safety Teams to some precincts in order to combat gun violence. The team members drive unmarked cars and wear modified uniforms to conduct searches, frisks, and stops in their assigned neighborhood.
Denerstein wrote: 'Unfortunately the results are depressing'
In spite of their training and expertise, officers assigned Neighborhood Safety Teams appear to stop, frisk and search individuals with an unsatisfactory degree of compliance. "Too many people are frisked and searched illegally."
A federal judge ruled in 2013 that stop and frisk was a violation of the civil rights for Black and Hispanic New Yorkers. This practice was used to remove guns and drugs from the streets by stopping and searching individuals on the street.
Shira Scheindlin, a U.S. district judge, ruled that the stops were an indirect form of racial profile. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized after he once championed the tactic.
The department reported a dramatic drop in the number of stops since the ruling. It reports an average of 11,730 stops per year between 2016 and 2022, down from a peak of almost 686,000 in 2011.
According to data collected by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the NYPD, the vast majority (89%) of stops will be made in 2022.