An alarming number of New York police officers are performing unconstitutional “stop and frisks,” despite court orders to end the practice three years ago.
A report that reviewed hundreds of New York Police Department street stops in 2015 found that in almost a third of the cases, the officer failed to document the suspicion that prompted the stop.
In practically every instance, the officer’s supervisor signed off on the officer’s paperwork and noted there was “sufficient basis for the stop, frisk or search.”
The problem persists because officers aren’t being properly taught about the department’s reforms, according to the report, which was released Tuesday by federal monitor Peter Zimroth.
“Many police officers, including supervisors, are not well-informed as yet of the changes underway or the reasons for them and therefore have yet to internalize them,” Zimroth wrote in the report.
“Many appear not to understand what is expected of them.”
In 2013, a federal judge ruled that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics violated the constitutional rights of minorities, namely the Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees equal protection.
The NYPD’s patrol guide requires officers to document stops and frisks and list the reasonable suspicion for each.
But of the nearly 600 instances examined, officers did not provide reasonable suspicion in 28 per cent of stops, 27 per cent of frisks and 16 per cent of searches, Zimroth wrote.
The report calls for the department to improve the communication of new policies to officers.
“We obviously want good and accurate information,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to the New York Times. “But that’s also about training all of our officers in how to do that properly.”
According to the Times, Zimroth won’t make an official determination on whether the department is violating the court’s orders until next year.
The number of New York police stops has dropped dramatically in the past few years. The department recorded about 24,000 stops in 2015, down from the 46,000 it made in 2014, and significantly lower than the nearly 686,000 it made in 2011.
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