WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Paterson Weighs Bill to Limit Stop and Frisk Database
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Governor Paterson has just a few days to decide if he will sign a bill that would prohibit the NYPD from continued maintenance of a database that includes personal information on hundreds of thousands of people annually stopped and frisked by police but not arrested.
Currently, the information is maintained in perpetuity.
This week, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio issued a press release and held a press conference to highlight the fact that all of the Democratic contenders for Attorney General support this bill. It was drafted by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and State Senator Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer.
Republican Attorney General contender Dan Donovan, the Staten Island District Attorney, also supports the bill.
At DeBlasio's press conference, Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Coffey, a former Federal prosecutor, said maintaining a police database of people not charged with a crime hurts community/police relations.
"Police men and women are under pressure and going beyond the Constitutional contours in order to generate numbers and so that as even more important reason not to have this database," said Coffey.
The NYPD says there is no quota and that the database has helped them identify potential criminal suspects. In 2009, the NYPD made 590,000 stop and frisk stops. Only six percent of those encounters generated arrests, but they resulted in the confiscation of 800 guns and thousands of knives. Commissioner Kelly has said he is willing to consider purging the database after a year.
When asked to comment on the issue, current Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo passed. "That piece of legislation is currently being considered. There are some legal questions about that legislation that my office may be involved in so I don’t want to prejudice my office’s involvement on legal issues."
Republican candidiate and former Congressman Rick Lazio has yet to weigh in.