NEW YORK — A new report by the independent monitor of the NYPD’s Neighborhood Safety Teams accuses the units of stopping, frisking and searching people unlawfully.
The statistics provided are meant to be a snapshot. The monitor’s audit covers April 1, 2022 to Oct. 30, 2022.
For weeks, NST members were chosen at random to have their body-worn camera videos looked at and, separately, a sample size of stop reports were assessed. From what the monitor team saw, performance was below acceptable standards.
In March 2022, Neighborhood Safety Teams debuted at precincts with the highest number of shootings. Unlike the Anti-Crime Unit of the past, in which officers wore plainclothes, NST officers wear modified uniforms, body cameras and drive unmarked cars.
The monitor team found, “too many people are stopped, frisked, and searched unlawfully.”
It specifically singled out low compliance at the 41st Precinct in the Bronx, which covers Hunts Point and Longwood. Only 41% of stops, 32% of frisks, and 26% of searches were lawful there.
The report also found in the eight commands selected for the assessment that non-NST officers had a higher percentage of lawful stops than NST officers, which receive special training, like scenario-based constitutional policing, courtroom testimony, investigative encounters, car stop workshops, tactical training and community relations.
The monitor reported NST officers had reasonable suspicion for only 73% of the frisks assessed and a legal basis for only 63% of searches assessed.
But the report did note that, “some commands have 100% compliance,” and that they should serve as models.
The NYPD says it is still reviewing the report but released a statement that reads, “The department disagrees with the conclusions of the monitor with respect to some of the encounters the team reviewed. NSTs engage with the public lawfully and constitutionally, and since the implementation of the program they have been instrumental in the reduction of shootings and homicides that the city is experiencing. The NYPD takes accountability seriously and has established multiple layers of oversight.”
What will happen next is a more comprehensive review by the monitor team, and the NYPD must develop a plan for improved NST compliance within the next 30 days.
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