The New York Civil Liberties Union today praised the State Senate for passing legislation that will protect New Yorkers’ privacy and due process rights by barring the NYPD from keeping a computer database of innocent people who are stopped, questioned or frisked by police officers.
“We applaud the Senate for voting to pull the plug on the NYPD’s vast database of totally innocent black and Latino New Yorkers,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “No one who was unjustly stopped, questioned or frisked should end up in an electronic police database. Now the Assembly and Governor Paterson must join the Senate and stand up for the right to privacy and due process under the law.”
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Eric Adams (D-20th SD) and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-57th AD), targets the NYPD’s practice of maintaining a computer database containing the names, addresses and other personal information of every individual who is stopped, questioned and frisked by NYPD officers, including the overwhelming majority of people who are stopped but are totally innocent – never arrested or issued a summons. It would amend state Criminal Procedure Law to prohibit police departments from storing in a computer database the personal information of individuals who have been stopped and/or frisked by police and released without any further legal action.
The bill, S7945, would allow police to keep electronic databases of generic information about stop-and-frisk encounters, such as the gender and race of individuals stopped, and the location of the stops. This data is necessary to independently analyze the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk activity and identify whether officers are engaging in a pattern of racial profiling.
“Over the past six years, the police have stopped innocent blacks and Latinos in New York City millions of times, and those people are suffering the added injustice of having their personal information stored indefinitely in an NYPD database making them permanent targets for criminal investigation,” Lieberman said. “It’s a shame that legislation is necessary to stop to this unjust and unnecessary practice.”
Since 2004, the NYPD has stopped and interrogated people nearly 3 million times, and the names and addresses of those stopped have been entered into the department’s database, regardless of whether the person had done anything wrong. Last year, NYPD officers stopped and questioned or frisked people more than 575,000 times, the most ever. Nearly nine out of 10 of those stopped and questioned by police last year were neither arrested nor issued a summons. And more than 80 percent were black or Latino.