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NYPD Fails to Protect City’s Most Vulnerable Communities, According to New Leitner Center Report

Police Abuses Target Low-Income Communities of Color, Muslims, LGBTQ persons, Sex Workers, Street Vendors, Report Says

New York, NY (February 14, 2013) – A new report co-authored by the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) of the Urban Justice Center chronicles New York Police Department (NYPD) abuses and their damaging effects against a range of the city’s most vulnerable populations, including low-income African-Americans and Latinos, Muslims, sex workers, LGBTQ people, street vendors, people with mental illness, and the homeless.  Released today,  Criminalizing Communities: NYPD Abuse of Vulnerable Populations urges an end to the NYPD’s aggressively enforced quota system, an end to the NYPD’s stop and frisk program, and recommends other administrative and legislative reforms that will ensure that all New Yorkers can live free from police abuse.  

The report finds that NYPD officers often harass the very populations they are supposed to protect. Looking at the problem from a broad policy perspective, the report calls on the Mayor’s Office, the New York City Council, and Governor’s office, and the New York State Legislature, as well as the NYPD to enact sweeping reforms that would end adversarial relationships between the NYPD and marginalized communities across NYC, and ensure more equitable police policies and practices.

Leitner Center/PROP’s recommendations include:

  • Abolish the NYPD’s quota system for evaluating the job performance of police officers, a misguided management approach that drives much of the police misconduct on the ground;
  • Abolish the practice of discriminatory and suspicion-less stop and frisks;
  • Stop false arrests and unwarranted ticketing of sex workers based on profiling in cases where there is no probable cause;
  • Cease the issuing of criminal summonses to street vendors for activity that is not criminal in nature;
  • Establish a program of Community Crisis Intervention Teams (CCITs), which would work with professionals from the mental health community to improve police interactions with the mentally ill;
  • Eliminate as the basis for making arrests “quality of life” offenses like disorderly conduct that unfairly target homeless people;
  • Immediately dismantle the surveillance program of Muslim communities;
  • Create a strong autonomous agency with subpoena power, that monitors and assesses police priorities and policies and that effectively investigates and punishes abusive conduct by individual officers.

·     “The city should jettison its harsh and biased law enforcement strategies and support community policing and services that cut crime while stabilizing rather than disrupting neighborhoods,” said Robert Gangi, director of PROP.  “Such an approach would help provide New Yorkers of every race and income level with the chance to fully experience a safe, livable, and inclusive city.”

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Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
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