The New York Police Department can stop suspects based on a description that includes race and they can still broadcast descriptions that include it, said a four-page internal document sent to all NYPD commands, reported The New York Times (11.25.13). The memo clarified that while race can be a factor, it cannot be the only factor. If a victim describes a crime suspect by race, police officers also need to know more, like sex, clothing description and direction of travel, before making someone the subject of law enforcement action, clarified civil rights lawyer David Perecman, founder of The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C.
The document, known as a “Finest Message,” will affect the NYPD’s stop and frisk program.
To avoid liability, said The New York Times, officers need to “adhere closely” to the rules and “demonstrate that probable cause for an arrest or the issuance of a summons existed or reasonable suspicion for a stop was present.”
“It has yet to be seen if the new department policies are too vague and open to too much interpretation,” said Perecman. “Unfair policing tactics are an affront to civil liberties.”
Of the 685,000 people stopped in 2011, 87 percent were black or Latino and of those individuals, 90 percent were innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor ticketed, according to the NYCLU.
“Racial profiling drives a wedge between police and their communities. Community members need to be treated as partners, not enemies,” said Perecman.
Individuals who believe they have been victims of a New York civil rights violation including discrimination or racial profiling can contact New York civil rights violation lawyers at The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C.
The New York Times article cited is “Officers Are Told Race Can Be a Factor in Street Stops, but Not the Only One.”