Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
City lawyers in the class-action suit challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s stop and frisk tactic revealed a new memo on Tuesday requiring officers to expand the amount of information included on department logs.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they've been trying to get the NYPD to provide more information about each stop since the suit was filed five years ago. Without it, they argue, it’s difficult to determine if an officer has enough reasonable suspicion to legally detain someone. It was dated March 5, 2013, the day after Lead attorney Darius Charney with the Center for Constitutional Rights said a brief was filed with the court asking for various changes to the NYPD’s practices.
“It's gamesmanship pure and simple. You know, you wait till the eve of trial to all of a sudden to say, 'hey, we're gonna change the way we do things,'" remarked Charney, outside the courthouse. He also alleges the memo is an attempt by the city to avoid any court-mandated remedies.
But city lawyers said the memo was merely a reinforcement of existing policy since the department's patrol guide already advises officers to enter relevant details about stops in their activity log. Most of the information gathered on the department’s UF 250 forms consists of checked off boxes. The memo, issued to commanding officers of all patrol boroughs, directs them to ensure that a narrative description is attached to that form explaining the circumstances. For example, if “furtive movements” is checked, the memo states that they must describe the particular way the suspect was moving.
During the trial, officers have testified that they sometimes don't record a great deal of information in their activity logs, saying the practice is a guideline rather than a requirement.
Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled the document could be introduced into evidence later in the trial when its author, Chief of Patrol James Hall, testifies.