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Does it matter if the police know who you are, where you live and that you were in the neighborhood when a store was robbed or an old lady got mugged? Are your rights violated when the NYPD keeps information on people who are stopped and frisked and not arrested?
The state Legislature has passed a bill that prevents the NYPD from keeping data on innocent people. Gov. David Paterson has signed that bill into law. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the new law will have a negative impact on public safety. They claim the information collected during the stop-and-frisks was a valuable tool in fighting crime.
State Sen. Jose Peralta disagrees. “I am deeply concerned that [this] disturbing trend has created a culture of distrust for the police and a feeling of disrespect towards our constituents.”
No matter how one feels about this new law, in many Queens neighborhoods the police are not trusted. Although crime rates are at a historic low, the relationship between the police and the city’s Latinos and African Americans remains strained.
The new law was introduced by Sen. Eric Adams, a former police officer who often accused the department of using abusive tactics in minority neighborhoods. The law mandates that police officers cannot maintain databases of information gathered from stop-and-frisk suspects who are not arrested and convicted.
After signing the bill, Paterson released a statement in which he said, “There is a principle ... that individuals wrongly accused of a crime should suffer neither stigma nor adverse consequences by virtue of an arrest or criminal accusation not resulting in conviction.”
We hope the police commissioner and mayor are wrong that the police will be able to move forward in the war on crime without this tool. At the same time, community leaders should know the new law is only a Band-Aid. More needs to be done to improve the relationship between the NYPD and city’s minorities.
Parents have to feel confident their children will not be seen as suspects solely because of the color of their skin or the neighborhood where they live in.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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