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NYCLU Settles Lawsuit Against Ramapo Police for Keeping Critical Policies Secret

The New York Civil Liberties Union has agreed to a settlement with the Ramapo Police Department that a judge is expected to approve today. The NYCLU filed the lawsuit in May after the department 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. As part of the settlement, the department agreed to release nearly unredacted versions of certain key policies that it had previously censored.

“We are pleased that the Ramapo Police Department has agreed to do the right thing and release important details about how its officers do their jobs,” said NYCLU Lower Hudson Valley Chapter Director Shannon Wong. “But it should not have taken more than a year or the filing of a lawsuit for this basic information to be brought into the light. The department has work to do to heal the relationship between police and communities of color and transparency is a part of the solution.”

The NYCLU has specifically sought transparency around police practices in Ramapo after high profile instances suggesting systemic racial profiling. In 2014, for example, four black state parole officers filed a lawsuit against the Ramapo Police Department. Police had stopped and held them at gunpoint despite their having identified themselves as law enforcement. One of the officers said she thought her “life was going to end” during the encounter. The parole 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.

The NYCLU submitted the FOIL 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 to the project.

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