The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Ramapo Police Department today after it refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking basic information about how the controversial department operates. The NYCLU sought policies and data on a variety of policing tactics, such as the use of force, stops and temporary detentions, surveillance technologies and the enforcement of non-criminal offenses. After 11 months, the department still refuses to provide unredacted versions of certain key policies around the use of force, traffic stops and officer accountability.
The NYCLU made the request as part of its Police Report Card Project, aimed at measuring and increasing the transparency and accountability of police departments statewide. In March, the NYCLU sued the Buffalo Police Department for failing to provide similar information sought for the project.
“The Ramapo Police Department is keeping the public in the dark by not providing basic information about how officers do their jobs,” said NYCLU Lower Hudson Valley Chapter Director Shannon Wong. “The department continues to face serious questions about racial profiling and how it conducts traffic stops and it can help quell those concerns by being transparent.”
Four Black state parole officers filed a lawsuit against the Ramapo Police Department in 2014 after they were stopped and held at gunpoint despite identifying themselves as law enforcement. One of the officers said she thought her “life was going to end” during the encounter. The officers said they were racially profiled by the police who held them for nearly an hour.
The NYCLU’s FOIL request sought 39 categories of records including the use of force, stops and temporary detentions, enforcement of three non-criminal offenses, complaints regarding alleged misconduct, various surveillance technologies, bias-based policing and racial profiling. More than ten departments across New York and numerous departments around the country, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington D.C., have released unredacted records on these same policies.
After 11 months, the department still refuses to provide unredacted information on weapons, discharging firearms, the use of force, disciplining officers and traffic stops.
In its lawsuit, the NYCLU asks that the Ramapo Police Department be required to provide unredacted copies of the policies in question.