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NYCLU Urges Commuters To Report Stories On Bag Searches

The New York Civil Liberties Union has posted to its Web site forms on which individuals can report their encounters with police conducting searches on public transportation. The information contained on these forms will assist the NYCLU in analyzing and possibly challenging the constitutionality of the methods and practices used by the police in conducting these searches. On July 21st, the NYPD announced it will begin randomly searching bags, including backpacks and packages, brought into the mass transit system and will continue these searches indefinitely.

In addition to asking for reports on police searches, the NYCLU also has posted Know Your Rights guidelines on its Web site so that people will understand what their rights are if they are subject to a search.

The NYCLU opposes this random search policy. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 12, of the New York State Constitution protect against unreasonable searches of one’s person or possessions.

“Empowering police officers to conduct random searches of individuals without suspicion of criminal wrongdoing constitutes a gross infringement of the fundamental rights and liberties of persons living in a free society,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “Conducting random searches of persons traveling in the mass transit system will do little if anything to enhance the public safety.”

The NYCLU believes this practice may even divert attention and resources from efforts that provide meaningful protection against acts of terrorism.

Know your rights: Stops and searches on the MTA

Bag search survey: If you are searched by police in the New York City mass transit system

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