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Questionable memo on quotas puts NYPD in hot seat

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/4/2013, 5:20 p.m.

More evidence has surfaced to support the belief that the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk practice is the result of a quota system. Last week, evidence introduced in the ongoing Floyd v. New York trial--which aims to eliminate the practice--revealed memos which instruct officers to include a narrative description of the stopped individual and to check off boxes on the form, known as a UF 250.

According to attorneys, the memo, which was sent out on March 5, amounts to an admission that the system in place is inadequate. The change is one that was demanded to be necessary in a brief that was sent to the court regarding required remedies and injunctive relief on the day prior to the memo's discovery.

The NYPD's chief of patrol, James Hall, reportedly issued a memo, "effective immediately," requiring all officers filling out UF 250 forms documenting stops to include an explanation of the circumstances and factors surrounding the stop. If "furtive movements," for instance, was cited on the form (the most commonly checked reason), a descriptive explanation must also be included.

Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said "The NYPD has now apparently recognized the need for one piece of the necessary reform we've been insisting on for years and specifically requested in this case. Of course, policies on paper, as we've seen so vividly in this trial, are insufficient for actual reform, and to genuinely remedy the City's illegal stops and frisks, we need an independent monitor."

In response, lawyers for the city say that the memo was used to reinforce an existing policy about logging stops. Reports indicate that officers in the case have testified that they have not always taken down information.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the memo has nothing to do with the ongoing trial.

"There was nothing nefarious about it," Kelly said at an event at police headquarters. "This is an ongoing process. When you are in a big organization with 50,000 people, there [are] certainly reminders that you have to put out."