Some cracks in the edifice of the stop-and-frisk fortress are starting to show. After three years of litigation, the New York Civil Liberties Union has gotten the NYPD to suspend its database of stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers. Until now, the NYPD has been able to indefinitely store biographical information on everyone it detained, even if their cases were dismissed or resolved with a civil fine.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said that the database has been used in numerous criminal investigations, despite the vast majority of those on this having no criminal record. In addition, New York state law requires that all documents pertaining to an arrest be sealed unless the person is convicted of or pleads guilty to a crime.
In a statement, NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said, “New Yorkers who are the victims of unjustified police stops will no longer suffer the further injustice of having their personal information stored indefinitely in an NYPD database.”
The settlement comes after over three years in the courts. In May 2010 the NYCLU filed a civil suit against the city on behalf of two plaintiffs, Clive Lino and Daryl Khan. Lino, a black then-29-year-old man, was stopped 13 times by police between 2008 and 2009. The Voice reported on the early days of the lawsuit.
Speaking on yesterday’s settlement, Lino says, “It is humiliating enough to be stopped and frisked for no reason, having your name and address kept in a police database only prolongs the indignity of it.”
Khan, a police reporter assigned to 1 Police Plaza for Newsday,* was biking through in Bed-Stuy when police stopped him, threw him against their unmarked van, and searched his pockets. He was issued a summons for biking on the sidewalk, which was later dropped.
This is fortunate timing for the NYCLU’s win. Over the last several months, the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg have been locked in battle over the Community Safety Act, legislation that would vastly curtail the use of stop-and-frisk by targeting it at its root: banning racial profiling and forcing police officers to explain their purpose during police action.
The council passed the legislation on June 27 and the mayor vetoed it soon after. An override vote is coming shortly. It is expected to be successful.
Below is the settlement in the case Lino v. City of New York.
*Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Daryl Khan was a freelance reporter on the police beat. In fact Daryl Khan was a full-time reporter for Newsday. Runnin’ Scared regrets the error.