NYPD Subject Record Number of People to  “STOP  &  FRISK” in 2008

In 2008 over half a million people in New York City were subjected to “STOP &  FRISK” by  New York City Police Department officers – that is over 500,000 individuals !  It is an all time record.   There are not many cities in the United States whose entire population reaches that number.

Similarly, the number of complaints the CCRB (Civil Complaint Review Board) expects to receive in 2009 is over 8,200.  This, too, is a record, and matches the increasing number of “STOP & FRISKS” that are taking place.

The job of the CCRB is to investigate complaints that usually deal with everything from Police Officers using obscenity to their use of excessive force and false arrests.  If charges are substantiated by the CCRB, then the matter is referred to the Police Department for further possible disciplinary action against the offending police officer.

Stop and Frisks on the Rise along with Complaints but NYPD disciplinary action Declining

Now here is the strange fact: While the number of “STOP & FRISKS” and complaints to the CCRB have been rising dramatically, the number of cases that the Police Department has decided to prosecute, after receiving them from the CCRB, have been drastically reduced !   In 2005 the NYPD refused to prosecute 2% of the cases forwarded by the CCRB.  By 2008 the percentage of cases the NYPD refused to prosecute rose to 33%–and for 2009 the percentage of refusals to prosecute is currently at 40% !

Keep in mind that cases referred by the CCRB to the NYPD for prosecution are only those cases where the CCRB has substantiated some or all of the charges lodged by a civilian against a police officer.   Yet the percent of police officers against whom charges have been substantiated, that end up being disciplined by the NYPD, decreases.

An attorney experienced in handling POLICE MISCONDUCT cases is NEVER influenced solely by any action of either the CCRB or the NYPD.    A knowledgeable attorney will rely on his or her own experience and investigation to determine the merit of a client’s case.  Experience will tell an attorney that inaction, or lack of substantiation, by either the CCRB or the NYPD with respect to charges brought against a police officer is certainly not the final determinant as to whether a client’s case can be successful.


New York Police Shooting

The New York City Police Department was faced with a tragedy recently.  An off-duty police office, chasing an individual he had witnessed attempting to break into his car, was shot and killed by a fellow police officer.  The off-duty officer, Omar J. Edwards, was chasing the suspect, gun in hand.  The on-duty officer, witnessing an unknown man with a gun running, identified himself and told the as yet unidentified off-duty officer not to move.   The off-duty officer, probably as an automatic reflex, turned towards the on-duty officer who, fearing for his life since a gun was now pointed in his direction, fired his weapon at the off-duty officer, killing him.  A difficult, tense situation leading to a tragic result.

We are told that police officers train for this event both during the initial Police Academy training and in follow-up training courses.  The officers are taught to overcome instinct and not to turn around despite an almost automatic reflex to do so, when confronted with a situation such as occurred in this case.

QUESTION: When police see a person with an object in their hand that they suspect may be a weapon, and they demand that person “STOP”, is it not natural to assume that a civilian will also have that same instinct to turn around?

What training, exactly, do police officers get to prevent the mistaken killing of civilians?    We see special training given to police officers to avoid becoming the target of mistaken shootings.  Is it not clear that civilians, without any training, are much more likely to be the victims of mistaken shootings since they receive no training whatsoever.

The life of every human being is precious, and it is essential that the training provided to police officers must be substantially improved to prevent ALL forms of mistaken shootings.  Too often we have witnessed tragedies that, with proper and repeated training, could probably have avoided an enormous amount of suffering for all the people involved in these tragedies.

Posted by New York Injury Lawyer, Steve Orlow