Senate Partners With Law Enforcement To Enact Smart Reform To “Stop & Frisk” Policy

June 23, 2010

Law relates to disposal of recordings in times of innocence

The State Senate passed legislation (S7945A/Adams) aimed at protecting the privacy and due process rights of innocent New Yorkers, while removing an unnecessary burden on law enforcement. The legislation provides that law enforcement will no longer be required to retain recordings of innocent New Yorkers who are stopped by police and subsequently released without further legal action.
The maintenance of recordings of New Yorkers who have not been accused of a crime can be later misused at the detriment of the innocent person questioned. The legislation also benefits law enforcement who will no longer be burdened with maintaining recordings unaffiliated with crimes, preventing the input of personal identifying information into an electronic database.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn), a former Captain within the New York City Police Department stated, “I truly believe the passage of this bill is a triumph of justice, and a benefit to all involved.  Police don’t have to be unduly burdened by massive amounts of extra data, and the innocent citizens of New York will no longer have their personal information accessed at the whim of the NYPD.  I am proud to collaborate with law enforcement to protect the personal privacy of the innocent members of our society.”
He added,” Our police agencies should not keep records on innocent people.”
Data from the NYPD show that officers have conducted 2.5 million stops since 2005; the vast majority of those stopped are completely innocent of any wrongdoing., Yet the maintenance of recordings made at these stops places these innocent individuals permanently under police suspicion and surveillance.
The NYPD maintained that the database was kept for use in future investigations.  However, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone, Jr., asserted in a letter to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly that archiving in a database information about persons who are innocent of wrongdoing “raises significant privacy right concerns and suggests that these innocent people are more likely to be targeted in future criminal investigations.”
The NYPD’s procedure had a disproportionate affect on minorities.  In 2009, the NYPD stopped 574,304 individuals.  Nine out of every ten were released after just a police stop.  Of those who were the subject of a stop that year, almost ninety percent were people of color.  Those vast racial disparities in the number of people stopped suggest that it will be minorities that will be implicated without legal justification in future criminal investigations.
“Being smart on crime is what keeps our streets safe. This bill protects the privacy and liberty of innocent New Yorkers while giving cops the tools they need to help their investigations, not hinder them. This is commendable work done by Senator Adams, and  I am proud to see the Majority work together with law enforcement officials to protect the rights of everyday New Yorkers,” said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson.