NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new report examines how changes to the NYPD’s controversial stop, question and frisk practices have affected the police and the community.
The reason, according to the report, is in part because officers are not sure about the new guidelines and in part because they are not sure what consequences they might face for a mistake.
“We do not know the extent to which officers may be declining to make lawful, appropriate stops because of these uncertainties,” wrote federal monitor Peter Zimroth. “To the extent that it’s happening, though, it is not a healthy state of affairs for police officers or communities.”
The head of one of the largest police unions said yes, that hesitation is real. Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said some of that can be corrected with training.
“But they also need additional confidence too. They need confidence to come from management, they need confidence to come from politicians, because it’s very difficult to put your life in harms’ way every day and be worried about what you do in good faith is going to end up getting you in trouble or getting you disciplined,” Palladino said.
Vince Warren heads the Center for Constitutional rights, which had a lead role in the federal lawsuit that brought reforms to the stop and frisk policy. He said the underreporting is troubling, but the guidelines are clear.
“I think what we’re really seeing here is a bit of a resistance, and sometimes when people resist, they pretend that they don’t really know what’s happening,” Warren said. “It’s clear as day, that when you stop someone you need to give a clear legal reason for stopping them. You need to write that down and record it in a fashion that can be kept and monitored.”
He continued, “We want to make sure police officers know that what we’re doing is to make policing better, not doing something that would harm them.”
City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-45th) pushed for stop-and-frisk reform under the Bloomberg administration. He said he is hearing more general concerns about police-community relations now.
“The stop, question and frisk issue I think is still there. I’ve been hearing it a little bit less. The misapplication of ‘broken windows’ is kind of what’s taken its place now,” Williams said. “And I think for all intents and purposes, if we don’t fix the structural problem, whatever comes next, people will also complain about. The real problem is about how we police different neighborhoods.”
With violent crime stats up in the city in the early part of the summer, and more recently down compared with last year, police Commissioner Bill Bratton recently denied any connection between a reduction in stop-and-frisk and public safety.
Bratton was not available for comment late Friday, but an NYPD representative said it is extremely important that all stops be properly documented, and there is an auditing process in place in precincts to identify any underreporting.
The department also said new NYPD recruits are now learning exactly how to document stops in their training at the Police Academy.
The next step in stop-and-frisk reforms will be a pilot program for police body cameras.