The NYPD said Friday it would implement the recommendations of a police monitor to give better guidance to its patrol officers on when they can detain and question people on the street.
Monitor Peter Zimroth said in a letter to a federal judge released Friday that officers made it clear to him that they "want more guidance and instruction about what they can and cannot do under the law . . . "
His letter comes a month after he said officers were not making stops of civilians, or were failing to document stops, because they feared making mistakes. The letter, accompanied by a draft of new Patrol Guide sections, makes clear that officers have no right to detain or frisk a person unless they suspect criminal activity.
Without indications of criminal activity, police cannot demand identification, and "the person may refuse to answer questions and/or walk or even run away," the draft document said.
It also said that supervisors should respond to the scene of all stops, where feasible, should review every stop-and-frisk report daily and should discuss any deficiencies in the paperwork with the officer.
A change to another section of the Patrol Guide would instruct officers that "race, color, ethnicity, or national origin" cannot be used as the sole basis for making a stop.
Officers who detain or frisk a person who is not arrested would be required, "when feasible and consistent with personal safety," to explain to the person why they were stopped, and "offer the person stopped . . . a tear-off information card, absent exigent circumstances."
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the underlying lawsuit, said in a letter to the court late Friday that it wanted officers to fill out the information card for all encounters, not just those in which people were detained for questioning.
The NYPD said in a statement Friday that it "worked with the monitor and the parties on these new procedures which will be implemented as part of the ongoing remedial process in the stop, question and frisk litigation settlement."
The head of the main city police union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, said in a statement Friday that the new rules, along with other recent changes in NYPD procedures, would deter officers from stop-and-frisk, jeopardize citizens and police alike, and leave fewer officers available to respond to calls for help.
"The sum of these measures will ensure the demise of proactive policing in this city and undoubtedly lead to increased crime," Lynch said.
If approved by the judge, the changes would take effect Sept. 21, according the draft Patrol Guide changes.
Zimroth said last month that he was working with the NYPD to set up a body camera program in which 1,000 officers would be outfitted with the devices. His proposal went far beyond the NYPD pilot program of 54 body cameras in selected precincts that began in December.
Zimroth, an attorney with the Manhattan firm Arnold and Porter, was appointed a police monitor by Judge Schira Scheindlin of U.S. District Court in Manhattan in 2013 after she ruled that the city's stop-and-frisk tactics violated the constitutional rights of minorities. She found that 83 percent of those stopped were blacks and Hispanics, more than half those stopped were frisked, and 1.5 percent of the frisks revealed weapons.With John Riley