Legislation to Combat Discriminatory Policing and Hold the NYPD Accountable
(For a brief video introduction to the Community Safety Act, click here. To download this information as a PDF, click here.)
The Community Safety Act is a landmark police reform legislative package that currently consists of four bills aimed at ending discriminatory policing and bringing real accountability to the NYPD. New Yorkers want to live in a safe city where police officers treat all residents equally and respectfully, and are not above the law. These four bills were introduced in the City Council in 2012, a hearing was held on the full package in October 2012, and the bills are now awaiting a final hearing and vote. The Community Safety Act includes
1. Protecting New Yorkers against discriminatory profiling by the NYPD (Intro. 800a)
- Establishes a strong and enforceable ban on profiling and discrimination by the New York City Police Department.
- Expands the categories of individuals protected from discrimination. The current prohibition covers race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin. The bill would expand this to also include: age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status.
- A meaningful ”private right of action” would be created for individuals who believe they have been unjustly profiled by the NYPD.
- New Yorkers would be able to bring intentional discrimination claims and/or disparate impact claims, though not for monetary damages.
Click here for a summary of changes to this legislation (Intro 800A). Similar laws exist in Illinois, West Virginia & Arkansas. This bill is also similar to the federal End Racial Profiling Act.
2. Establishing independent oversight of the NYPD (Intro. 881a)
- Assigns responsibility for NYPD oversight to the Commissioner of the Department of Investigation. (In NYC, the DOI currently oversees about 300 city agencies - including the Fire Department, Department of Education and Human Resources Administration – but not the NYPD.)
- Oversight would include reviewing NYPD operations, policies, programs and practices.
- Reports would be made public and revisited annually to see if recommendations have been followed.
There is independent monitoring of the FBI, CIA, LAPD and every major New York City agency except for the NYPD.
3. Protecting New Yorkers against unlawful searches (Intro. 799)
- Ends the practice of the NYPD deceiving New Yorkers into consenting to unnecessary searches
- Requires officers to explain that a person has the right to refuse a search when there is no warrant or probable cause
- Requires officers to obtain proof of consent to a search.
Similar laws exist in Colorado & West Virginia.
2. Requiring officers to identify and explain themselves to the public (Intro. 801)
- Requires officers to provide the specific reason for their law enforcement activity, such as a stop-and-frisk
- Requires officers to provide document to the person with the officer's name and information on how to file a complaint at the end of each police encounter
Similar laws exist in Arkansas, Minnesota and Colorado.