Public Sector Alliance September 25, 2014

Groups want police unions to drop stop and frisk appeals

By Gloria Pazmino

A coalition of community groups, Council members and police reform advocates rallied on the steps of City Hall today to demand that the city's police unions drop their appeal of stop and frisk reforms a federal judge ordered last year.

The group singled out the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, along with other groups that represent the NYPD's detectives, captains, and lieutenants.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez a Democrat from lower Manhattan, said the unions were to blame for delaying the reforms.

“There is blue wall of silence that exists in this city—that blue wall of the police officers and the police unions that want to stop and hide the institutionalized racism and homophobia that exists in the department and exists in this city,” Mendez said.

A federal judge found last year that the NYPD’s implementation of stop and frisk was unconstitutional and ordered all the parties in the lawsuit, including the police unions to come up with reforms.

Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped an appeal filed by Bloomberg administration shortly before becoming mayor in January, and has been supportive of the judge’s decision.

Darius Charney, a senior attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights and the lead lawyer in the Floyd v. City of New York case which led to the judge’s decision, said the police unions have stalled the reform process by continuing to file legal motions and appeals.

“We are here today because a long overdue process that was ordered by a federal court more than one year ago today has still not begun.” Charney said. “The unfortunate reality here is that the unions representing the police officers and police sergeants and lieutenants and captains of this city do not want to be part of a solution even though they have been invited to the table.”

Councilman Jumaane Williams, a frequent critic of the department and one of the sponsors of the Community Safety Act which outlawed profiling by the department and created an inspector general last year, said the unions are delaying the process and refusing to acknowledge what he described as “institutionalized racism.”

“What’s happening now is a prolonged temper tantrum by people who want to continue to flaunt and push institutional racism. The flood gates have not opened up in the courts. There has not been mass hysteria in the city of New York.”

In a statement, P.B.A. president Pat Lynch showed no sign of backing down.

“We make no apologies for protecting our members from a decision that directly impacts how we do our jobs,” Lynch said. “The point of our challenge is to allow our members who protect everyone in this city regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation, to have a voice in the discussion of operational changes that will directly impact us and the work that we do.”