NYPD (79569)

Police officers in the five boroughs are struggling to adapt to changes to stop-and-frisk polices.

In a 94-page report released last week, attorney Peter Zimroth revealed that many New York Police Department officers still haven’t figured out the court-mandated changes made to its stop-and-frisk program.

“Getting stop-and-frisk and related trespass enforcement practices right is important, but it does not mean eliminating the practices,” read the report. “The court did not rule that they are prohibited. When conducted lawfully and professionally, they are valuable and legitimate law enforcement tools. Getting it right means at least this: that police officers understand their lawful authority and limit their activities to what is permitted by law; that officers do not avoid enforcement activities when appropriate; that they treat the people with whom they interact professionally, with dignity and respect and in ways best designed to protect the safety of civilians and officers; and, finally, that officers document their activities as required by law and NYPD policy.”

Zimroth’s report also said that the police are reporting stops that aren’t really stops and fabricating encounters just to complete a report.

“Ultimately, this is a challenge of leadership, particularly for those who supervise officers engaged in day-to-day enforcement activities—sergeants, their immediate supervisors, and the precinct and unit commanders who set the tone for those under them,” read the report. “This challenge implicates every aspect of the court orders and the parties’ agreements, and it will not be met without changes in policies, training, supervision and all the ways the NYPD incentivizes good police behavior and discourages unacceptable behavior. This is a large task that will take time and substantial effort to accomplish.”

Zimroth’s report led to a response from activists.

“This is the second report where the court monitor is raising serious concerns about stop-and-frisks going unrecorded and being improperly documented,” said Alyssa Aguilera, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, whose statement was sent by Communities United for Police Reform. “The fact that important changes are not being properly implemented by the department and enforced by supervising officers is unsurprising but of significant concern to impacted communities, given the NYPD’s long history of insufficient accountability and transparency.

According to Zimroth’s report, a significant decrease in the number of reported stops has occurred in the past four years. In 2011, 685,724 stop reports were filed. In 2015, there were only 24,000. But the report states that the number of stops shouldn’t matter; the lawfulness of the stops (and how they were conducted) matter more.

“This report reinforces the notion that declines in the overall number of reported stops do not equate to reform,” stated Aguilera. “Black and Latino New Yorkers remain the highly disproportionate target of stops, with the vast majority of stops still not resulting in summons or arrest. Real reform requires an end to unconstitutional stops, systemic change at the NYPD that prioritizes accountability and providing impacted communities with a meaningful role in reforms that can end stop-and-frisk abuses.”

Aguilera concluded, “This report only further demonstrates the need for legislative reforms of the Right to Know Act, which would advance accountability and transparency in police encounters, including and beyond stop-and-frisk.”