Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was challenged on the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy in a recent meeting with Brooklyn politicians, the Voice has learned.
In a meeting described as “somewhat tense,” Kelly told a group of elected officials that the department is using stop and frisks–which have grown dramatically over the past five years–as a “preventive” measure to stop crime before it takes place, according to two people present at the meeting.
But City Councilwoman Letitia James and state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, both lawyers, told the commissioner in the three-hour meeting that it was illegal to use stop and frisk as a preventive measure because officers have to have reasonable suspicion of a crime before stopping and searching New Yorkers.
Jeffries told Kelly that the department was in danger of facing major civil rights lawsuits if he continued to use the tactic as a preventive measure.
Some Brooklyn elected officials have been weighing whether to ask the Justice Department to examine the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn is declining to comment on a report that federal prosecutors want to speak with NYPD whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft about his allegations that supervisors in the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn downgraded crime stats and refused to take criminal complaints, and gave orders that may have led to civil rights violations. Those allegations and others were detailed in the Voice‘s “NYPD Tapes” series. Schoolcraft has since filed a $50 million lawsuit against the NYPD for forcibly placing him in the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for six days.
The Voice has learned that the feds actually contacted Schoolcraft weeks ago, and had scheduled a meeting in late July, but the meeting was cancelled in what was called a routine scheduling glitch. The meeting was to be held by the civil rights division of that office.
The Voice has also learned that a number of council members have asked City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for a hearing on the stop-and-frisk policies, and on elements highlighted in the Voice series.
Among other things, the series reported that tape recordings made in the 81st Precinct and obtained by the Voice show that officers are being pressured to do stop and frisks to hit unwritten quotas, a practice which appears to violate the legal standard which allows the tactic.