NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn) announced legislation Monday that would require the NYPD to disclose the extra police services it provides to businesses, in light of allegations of racial profiling at department stores.
Squadron said the bill would require the city to provide information on all agreements to provide additional police services in private retail stores. He said the NYPD operates a Paid Detail Unit in which off-duty, but uniformed police personnel work for private companies for an hourly fee.
“All the recent shop-and-frisk episodes raised a lot of questions,” Squadron said, “What is NYPD’s role? What are their policies? Do they have their Paid Detail unit, which is a way to hire uniformed officers for private businesses as part of this or not, and why are city public housing residents getting charged twice for policing if private businesses aren’t?”
Squadron said NYCHA development residents are charged over $70 million per year for “additional police services,” and this should come to an end. He said while NYCHA residents are clearly paying for extra policing it appeared that stores such as Barneys and Macy’s are employing NYPD officers through “ambiguous, non-transparent policies.”
He expressed frustration, saying it remains unclear who ordered police to check on African-Americans at Macy’s and Barneys when they bought expensive items.
“We’re really hopeful that the NYPD will voluntarily comply with the requirements in the legislation and that we’ll get them moving forward. You know, these shop-and-frisk incidents – these questions about racial profiling – are pretty shocking – not just because something happened that should never be happening in New York City or anywhere else. We also don’t know why it happened and who is responsible for it, weeks later. That’s a big problem,” he said.
Last month, Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old City College of Technology student, filed a lawsuit against the NYPD and Barneys, claiming he was racially targeted after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt in April at the Madison Avenue store.
Another customer, Kayla Phillips, 21, filed a complaint with the city’s police watchdog agency, claiming she had a similar experience after buying a $2,500 Celine handbag in February.
Barneys chief executive officer Mark Lee met with civil rights leaders and issued an apology to the customers saying, “No one should go through the unacceptable experiences described by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips in recent media reports, and we offer our deepest sympathies to them both.”
But the company insists its employees did nothing wrong.
In a report released earlier this month, Barneys said its employees did not initiate any profiling, and did not call police in to check out the two customers when they purchased expensive items in separate incidents.
“At no time did Barneys personnel either request, advise, or otherwise imply that the (NYPD) stop or detain (the complaining customers),” the report said.
Actor Robert Brown said he was stopped inside the flagship store in Herald Square last June after he bought a $1,350 Movado wristwatch.
Brown thinks he was stopped because he is black. He has filed a lawsuit.
Crown Heights resident Art Palmer said he used two credit cards to spend several hundred dollars on shirts and ties at Macy’s Herald Square back in April. He said he was then stopped by four undercover police officers outside.
Macy’s said it does not tolerate discrimination.
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