Would you be shocked if we told you NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactic was leading to wrongful arrests? Probably not. But it is. And the Bronx district attorney has recently decided to take a stand against them—refusing to prosecute the charges unless the arresting officer can be interviewed to substantiate the charges.
The policy to stop prosecuting a number of cases came in July when the Bronx prosecutor’s office realized that tenants and guests of public housing projects were being arrested for trespassing. Yes, they were being handcuffed and taken to jail for “trespassing” where they live.
The NY Times reports that many people were stopped-and-frisked in these neighborhoods, where cops often use the tactics to reportedly keep crime down. But when they couldn’t find anything illegal, any valid reason for arrest, the officers would arrest them for trespassing.
“By essentially accusing the police of wrongfully arresting people, the stance taken by Bronx prosecutors is the first known instance in which a district attorney has questioned any segment of arrests resulting from stop-and-frisk tactics.”
As a result of their refusal to prosecute, trespassing cases out of the Bronx have dropped dramatically. In August they fell 25 percent when compared with August of last year. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, as a contrast, they had only fallen less than 5 percent. In Queens, they actually increased.
The NYPD has come to rely on the stop-and-frisk policy that allows them to use flimsy justification to hassle largely-minority communities. The policy has given cops a free ticket to searching and detaining citizens as they look for a potential reason to make an arrest. In the cases of these “trespassers”, there was no reason so they made one up.
The Bronx prosecutor will still handle those trespassing cases where the officer is willing to be interviewed about the charge—as a simple measure to ensure time and money won’t be wasted prosecuting an invalid charge. It seems, however, that few cops have stepped forward to substantiate the charges they doled out.
Jeannette Rucker, a bureau chief in the prosecutor’s office became alerted to the problem when she received notification from several defense attorneys that their clients were facing charges that simply weren’t true. That they had been arrested outside of their own residence or in projects in which they were invited guests.
The NYPD has denied any officer wrongdoing and Commissioner Raymond Kelly says that no wrongdoing has been uncovered in their investigation.
Cops make mistakes. If you are facing criminal charges that you believe are unjust—we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and your legal options.