Paterson signs bill restricting stop and frisk

July 16, 2010 3:17:20 PM PDT
Gov. David Paterson signed legislation that would stop New York City police from storing the names of hundreds of thousands of people who were stopped and frisked without facing charges.

The Governor's signature not only ends the database, but stands as the first successful attempt at reigning in the NYPD's controversial Stop and Frisk policy.

"The reality is that just the warehousing of the personal data of innocent people makes a mockery of our constitution and it stops right now," Paterson said.

"Albany has robbed us of a great crime-fighting tool, one that saved lives. Without it, there will be, inevitably, killers and other criminals who won't be captured as quickly, or perhaps ever," he said.

Many of those who voted for the bill support Stop and Frisk, but felt the recording of the names of those not arrested went too far.

A former NYPD Captain turned state senator sponsored the bill.

"We will not live in fear and hide behind the guise of public protection by preventing every day innocent Americans from being held with a police file," State Senator Eric Adams said.

Mayor Bloomberg in his weekly radio appearance says the restriction means more unsolved crimes.

"It's hard to argue there's any damage done if we have the data, but even if it only helps you solve one crime, and it helps you solve a lot more. To not have it just doesn't make any sense," he said.

The new law does little to address the acceleration of Stop and Frisk under Commissioner Kelly. In his first year with crime at all-time lows 97-thousand people were stopped, questioned or frisked. Last year police stopped 575-thousand people, a 500-percent increase.

Most young minorities, like Justin Rosado, who were stopped, although they did nothing wrong, had their name permanently placed in a massive database.

"I thought it was wrong that they were writing my name down in a book. That I really don't know what they're going to do with my name," Rosado said.

That practice ends today. While Stop and Frisk will continue, state lawmakers and the governor have made it clear, they'll be watching closely for any civil rights abuses.

"We are respecting our liberties guaranteed to us in the Declaration of Independence and validated by our constitution," Paterson said.

The automated database, believed to be the only one in the country, grew out of a law requiring police to keep details such as age and race on anyone they stop, and it was envisioned as a way to safeguard civil rights.

The law, enacted in 2001, required the police department to turn information over to lawmakers every quarter. It was aimed at uncovering whether police were disproportionately stopping black and Hispanic men. But police also indefinitely hold on to addresses and names of people stopped - information not required by the law.

The bill, which takes effect immediately, would not prohibit police from entering into an electronic database generic identifiers, such as gender, race and location of the stop.