January 13, 2014


Advocates Object To Police-Union Motions On Frisks, Profiling


Police-reform advocates announced Jan. 10 that they were opposing efforts by the police unions to intervene in a suit the Bloomberg administration filed to block an anti-profiling law passed by the City Council over Mayor Bloomberg’s veto.

Candis Tolliver, a senior organizer for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said after the press conference on the City Hall portico that her organization also opposes efforts by the police unions to intervene in the Bloomberg-administration appeal of U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s decision that the NYPD was using stop-and-frisk in an unconstitutional fashion.

SBA Not Intervening Yet

Due to incorrect information from the Sergeants’ Benevolent Association, THE CHIEF-LEADER reported in its Jan. 10 edition that the appeals court had approved the SBA’s motion to intervene in the Scheindlin appeal. The Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the lead plaintiffs in the suit, says that the court has made no decision about the motion by the SBA or a similar one by the four other police unions.

Mayor de Blasio recently reiterated his campaign promise to drop the appeal of the Scheindlin decision. “We think the Judge was right about the reforms that we need to make,” he said Dec. 29 in appointing former U.S. Attorney and Judge Zachary Carter the city’s top lawyer.

The unions sought to inter-vene in the appeal, and in the lawsuit against the profiling bill, in hopes of keeping them alive if the city ends them. Union officials argue that the changes in training, supervision and discipline ordered by Judge Scheindlin—but delayed by the higher court while the appeal proceeds—are workplace issues subject to collective bargaining.

The law passed by the City Council, which has gone into effect, says police cannot profile—or initiate a stop-and-frisk or other activities—based on a person’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, or housing status.

Can Sue in State Court

It allows people who feel they were profiled to sue for relief in State Supreme Court. Plaintiffs cannot receive monetary damages, although a judge can order modifications to police policies. But the law permits judges to award attorney’s fees and payments to expert witnesses, and the police unions fear this puts officers at risk of having monetary judgments against them personally.

“The police unions must end this politically-motivated stunt and work with communities to improve safety and repair police-community relations, rather than continue the fight of a past Mayor,” said Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Police Reform.

“New York City’s new racial-profiling ban will help restore the community’s faith in the police and make city streets safer,” Ms. Tolliver said.