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The state Senate approved a bill last week that would change the way city police officers conduct their stop-and-frisk procedures to protect civilians.
The law, introduced by Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) requires officers not to keep transcriptions of innocent people who were stopped and frisked. About 90 percent of the people who were stopped and frisked in the city last year were eventually let go, according to the senator, and he said they should go on with their lives afterward.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Under the bill, which is pending final approval from the governor, the police will not be able to maintain recordings or written accounts not associated with crimes and will be prevented from putting the suspects’ personal information in any database.
Since 2005, the NYPD has conducted 2.5 million stops, 574,304 of which took place last year, and studies conducted by groups such as the New York Civil Liberties Union have shown that a large majority of stop-and-frisk victims are minorities. Critics of the procedure said it has been practiced more widely in black and Latino neighborhoods, such as southeast Queens and Corona.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who chairs the Council Public Safety Committee, has been trying to get the NYPD to stop keeping information of innocent stop-and-frisk victims for years. He and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) sent a letter to the police commissioner years ago, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Since no action has been taken by the Police Department, Albany has taken the responsibility,” he said.
The councilman added that the law should permit information to be kept for a year at most to help the NYPD in the event of a lawsuit.
“After they don’t need it anymore to defend against … lawsuits, then the information should be destroyed,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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