Reforming Policing and The Criminal Justice System

Our city has come a long way from the days when there were 700,000 stop-and-frisks a year, dramatically over-concentrated in communities of color. But we still have a long, long way to go if we believe that black and brown lives matter, and if we want a city of genuinely equal justice for all. This will require strong efforts at both advancing police reform and accountability and reforming our criminal justice system.

Key Campaign #9 Right to Know Act

President Trump has pledged to support the use of discriminatory and hyper-aggressive policing tactics, but progressives must move our city forward, not backward. While community-police relations have improved with a drastic decline in unconstitutional stop-and-frisks, the close scrutiny of stop-and-frisk abuses also revealed other daily police practices that lack transparency and reduce trust in the NYPD. The Right To Know Act is a legislative package that aims to protect the civil and human rights of New Yorkers while promoting communication, transparency and accountability in everyday interactions between the NYPD and the public.

The Right To Know Act will:

  • Require Police Officers to Identify Themselves - NYPD officers would be required to identify themselves and provide the officer's name, rank, command and a phone number for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, in written form, at the end of police encounters that do not result in an arrest or summons. The legislation would also require officers to provide the specific reason for their law enforcement activity (e.g. vehicle search, stop-and-frisk).
  • Require Consent to Search - The NYPD must obtain informed-consent prior to a search, which is protected by the Fourth Amendment. This bill would require officers to explain that a person has the right to refuse a search when there is no legal justification for a search. In such cases, officers would have to obtain objective proof that an individual gave informed and voluntary consent to a search. With this legislation, we hope to protect New Yorkers from unnecessary and unjustified searches without their consent.

Key Campaign #9 Close Rikers

In its 80 years as a jail, Rikers Island has been associated with violence and corruption. The majority of its detainees, mostly men of color, are held there, pre-trial, for non-violent offense charges simply because they are unable to afford bail. We must implement the proposals of the Lippman Commission (Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration) to cut short-term incarceration in half, re-design detention in modern, borough-based, community jails, and close Rikers for good.

  • Reduce Incarceration - New York City must continue to reduce the number of people brought into the criminal justice system for low-level offenses by implementing the Criminal Justice Reform Act and further reforms.
  • Diversion, Rehabilitation, and Alternatives - People with low-level non-violent offenses should be released on recognizance or pretrial supervision. Those with mental health, substance abuse, community service, employment, or housing needs should be enrolled in alternative programs.
  • Redesign Detention in Borough-Based Community Facilities - New detention facilities should be developed as outlined by the Lippman Commission, with safe, modern designs to protect corrections officers and detainees, and with amenities that benefit the surrounding communities

Stop Over-policing in Schools (SOS)

The over-policing of schools drives NYC youth directly towards juvenile and criminal justice systems. Every day, over 100,000 students have to walk through metal detectors or get pat downs. While the city over-invests in costly policing for schools that are disproportionately low income, black and Latino, these schools remain under-resourced in fundamental areas. Additional investment is also needed to expand restorative justice approaches citywide.

Right to Record

Noting how instrumental cameras have been in keeping law enforcement accountable, we support legislation that would inhibit any New York City police officers or peace officer from taking any steps to prevent the recording of their activities, unless such recording would constitute the crime of obstructing governmental administration.


Community Policing with Anti-Racism Training

We support a community policing model that encourages police officers to make an effort to establish trust with local residents, making our city safer. This model includes required training that helps law enforcement officials understand and curtail implicit bias. We also support record-keeping by police departments to detail information on population and individual stop patterns in order to prevent racial profiling and prohibit demographic profiling.