January 7, 2009 — The New York City Council today passed a law requiring the NYPD to submit an annual report with detailed information about police shootings, including the race of shooting victims. The new law follows a lawsuit the New York Civil Liberties Union filed in August 2008 challenging the NYPD’s refusal to disclose reports recording the race of New Yorkers shot by the police.
“This new reporting requirement will shed much-needed light on the NYPD’s shooting practices, which should build trust between the police and community,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. “The role of race in police shootings is a source of serious concern – and outrage – for many New Yorkers. It’s a shame the police department didn’t recognize that. Hiding this information didn’t address this concern – it just deepened distrust of the NYPD.”
In October 2007, the NYCLU filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the NYPD for records identifying the race of everyone shot by police officers since January 1997. The NYPD denied the request after months of stalling. The NYCLU filed its lawsuit in State Supreme Court on Aug. 4, 2008. The NYPD has since agreed to produce some of the requested information but claims that race data about many police shootings do not exist. It also publicly released a statistical report about police shootings in 2007, the first time it has released such information in over ten years.