NYPD's 'Clean Halls' back on ... for now
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 1/31/2013, 4:34 p.m.
A U.S. District Court judge lifted an order and will allow the NYPD's "Clean Halls" program to be back in business ... for a little while at least.
Judge Shira Scheindlin stated in her earlier ruling that the Clean Halls program violated the constitutional rights of New York City residents. According to Scheindlin, for years the NYPD should have known that its officers had routinely violated constitutional rights through Clean Halls. She said that the NYPD failed to properly train officers about when it was legal to make trespass stops.
It was learned that the NYPD would stop individuals outside of the building as well, which led Scheindlin to originally order the NYPD to cease its trespass stops outside of Clean Halls buildings immediately and properly outline the training remedies that she wanted the department to enforce after another court hearing in two months. For now, the court has allowed the NYPD to pursue business as usual because of the court case coming up in two months. Scheindlin said it would be too expensive to implement a complete reversal of the policy before the case is decided.
A trial set in March will decide the case, along with the broad practices of NYPD's "stop-and-frisk" policy. Scheindlin has already refused a request by the city to delay the trial.
When asked to comment on the recent ruling, the NYPD re-sent a statement from earlier this month by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly that declared how thankful the residents in Clean Halls buildings should be for the policy.
"Some take for granted the safety provided by doormen who routinely challenge visitors to their apartment buildings," said Kelly in his statement. "Through Clean Halls, the police have worked to provide a modicum of safety for less prosperous tenants. Their landlords explicitly requested this extra level of protection. The NYPD is fully committed to doing so in a manner that respects the constitutional rights of residents and visitors."
Originally filed last March by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the Bronx Defenders, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP as a class-action lawsuit, the case challenged the city's enforcement of Clean Halls, which itself is a part of the department's stop-and-frisk program.
Under stop-and-frisk's overall policy, 684,330 people were stopped and interrogated in 2011, a 14 percent increase from 2010. Of those stopped and interrogated, 92 percent were men and 87 percent were either Black or Hispanic. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, isn't too worried about the upcoming ruling. Scheindlin's continued criticism of the NYPD has left her comfortable and confident.
"The judge's ruling today affirmed her very strong criticism of the city's unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policy, and it may well expedite the final remedy process for dealing with the abuse of stop-and-frisk for all New Yorkers in a more efficient way," said Lieberman.