Cite U.S. Attorney’s charges against NYPD officer for arresting African-American male for racist reasons, blast program that overwhelmingly targets Black and Latino men
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and New York State Senator Eric Adams, along with Councilmember Jumaane Williams, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Make the Road New York, called on the federal government to investigate the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk program,” following the U.S. Justice Department’s filing of civil rights charges against an NYPD officer for allegedly arresting a Black man on Staten Island because of his race. While acknowledging the importance of stop and frisk as a law enforcement tool within constitutional limits, they demanded “sweeping reform” of the City’s current approach, where 85% of all stopped last year were Black and Latino, yet no arrests were made in 93% of all cases.
“The appalling case of Michael Daragjati, the NYPD officer charged by the U.S. Attorney for falsely arresting a Black man because of his race, is a chilling reminder that racism must be battled every day,” said Stringer, appearing at a press conference outside his offices with Adams. “But it also reminds us that we need to overhaul the NYPD’s stop and frisk program as currently deployed. Any policy that overwhelmingly targets specific ethnic groups does not make us safer. It sows deep distrust between our police and many of the communities they are sworn to protect.”
The Borough President and Senator Adams noted that, according to NYPD statistics, guns are recovered in only .2% of stop and frisk cases, which are on track to hit 700,000 stops this year. “That would be considered a failure if applied to any other government program,” Stringer said. “But the real damage is that this program has created a deep layer of distrust between police and communities of color and that makes solving crime harder, not easier.”
“I am profoundly concerned about the recent statistics showing a dramatic increase in the number of street stops in New York City by NYPD officers, and the disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos who are targeted,” said State Senator Eric Adams. “A society whose judicial system is based upon presumption of innocence must not permit its police department to infringe upon the civil and legal rights of the law-abiding public. The power of law enforcement to stop, question, frisk and even detain citizens deserves the most careful scrutiny and the most vigorous oversight. The case of Officer Michael Daragjati, charged for arresting a Black man because of his race, is a clear example of the abuse of the ‘stop and frisk’ policy. It is imperative that a federal investigation should occur so that civil liberties are protected and preserved for all.”
"It is alarming to know that young Blacks and Latinos are nine times more likely to get stopped and frisked by the NYPD,” said Jesus Gonzalez, a Community Organizer with Make the Road New York. “It is an unofficial initiation for young men of color to be placed in cuffs at least once growing up in our communities. Stop and Frisk is ineffective and is in fact making our community less safe because as a result, the distrust is increasing between the community and police. It raises suspicion every time there is police interaction. Are they here to protect or are they just chasing numbers to meet a quota?”
“Stop-and-frisk policy disparately and unjustly affects Black and Latino New Yorkers, hurts the relationship between the NYPD and communities they police, and is ineffective at keeping weapons or contraband off the street,” said Nahal Zamani, Advocacy Program Manager for the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Stop-and-frisk is also the tip of the iceberg for many New Yorkers, whose rights are continually violated by the NYPD as they face bias-based policing on a daily basis.”
There is a precedent for a federal investigation of the City’s stop and frisk program. In 2000, the U.S. Civil Service Commission – a bipartisan, independent commission charged with investigating, reporting on and making recommendations about civil rights issues – concluded that the NYPD street program amounts to racial profiling. The probe was part of a larger investigation into NYPD policies.
The press conference took place as a class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New York’s stop and frisk program has been making its way through the courts. The case, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, recently survived the City’s Motion to Dismiss, and is now headed for trial.