NYPD Releases Stop-and-Frisk Database in Face of NYCLU Lawsuit

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
January 24, 2008 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The New York City Police Department has secretly released its electronic database detailing police stops of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to a Midwestern university in the face of a New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking to make that information public.

For months, the NYCLU has sought access to the electronic database in order to perform an independent analysis of the department’s street interrogation practices to determine if police are stopping and patting people down in a racially-biased way.

The NYPD last week transferred its stop-and-frisk database to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data at the University of Michigan. Previously, the NYPD shared the electronic database with the Rand Corporation. Meanwhile, the department has refused to release the database to either the NYCLU or the New York City Council.

“It’s disturbing that the NYPD will give the data to anyone outside of our city who asks for it, but will fight tooth and nail to keep the information from New Yorkers,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “New Yorkers have a right to know if police are stopping people on racially biased grounds – we are the ones suffering the injustice.”

According to printed reports, between January 2006 and September 2007, NYPD officers stopped and frisked 867,617 New Yorkers – a rate of 1,360 every day, and a startling five times as many procedures as 2002. Almost 90 percent of those stopped were innocent.

The racial disparities are stark: police stopped 453,042 blacks and only 94,530 whites during that period.

Echoing calls from the city council, the NYCLU requested the database in July under the state’s Freedom of Information Law. The police department rejected the request at the end of August and denied the NYCLU’s administrative appeal on October 15. The NYCLU filed a lawsuit on November 13 in State Supreme Court.

Strangely, the NYPD filed a motion to dismiss the NYCLU’s lawsuit last week. Its court filings did not disclose its intentions to transfer the database to the university.

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