NYC Council To Vote On ‘How Many Stops’ Act To Increase Police Transparency And Improve Public Safety

December 20th, 2023

Press Release

NEW YORK: The New York City Council will vote today on the ‘How Many Stops’ Act, key policing transparency and reform legislation. Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams is co-prime sponsor with Council Member Alexa Avilés of one half of the act, a bill which would provide vital reporting and transparency around stops conducted by the New York City Police Department. This information is crucial to collect data around the implementation and impact of police reform bills.

The legislation, Intro 586-A, would require the NYPD to log and report basic information on level one, two, and three investigative encounters between the police and civilians. Officers would report on the race, age, and gender of the New Yorker approached, any factors leading to the interaction, and its outcomes. This reporting can be accomplished through a brief smartphone survey, and does not apply to casual conversations with the community. This information is critical to prevent the practices that led to the abuse of stop, question, and frisk prior to passage of the Community Safety Act in 2013.

“Effectively producing public safety based on results, not hysteria, means getting critical information about whether and how policing reforms are being implemented on the ground in our communities. New Yorkers have a right to know this information, and elected officials have an obligation to create policies based on it to ensure community safety and prevent injustices,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams on the bill. “Through simple reporting on NYPD stops, we can prevent the kinds of bias-based policing we’ve seen in the past, build trust in often over-policed areas, and continue the work that began a decade ago amid the height of stop, question, and frisk. We should all be working together for better policing and safer streets, and we can only do that if we have transparency about how police and civilians interact in our streets.”

Council Member Avilés said, “Today the City Council will vote on the How Many Stops Act (HMSA), a critical piece of legislation that will help our communities breathe a little easier.  HMSA will allow for policing data related to stops of New Yorkers at the hands of NYPD public information. This data will shed light on what many New Yorkers believe is a pattern of racial profiling from the NYPD and will help increase accountability and transparency.  The relationship between the NYPD and our communities has consistently been filled  with tension. With this higher standard of reporting we can begin to repair harm and establish a consistent structure of accountability. While this legislation will not resolve everything, I want to thank the families of victims of police violence who have worked tirelessly in pursuit of justice,  and we honor the memory of their loved ones with the passage of today’s legislation that will bring us closer to true community safety.”

Enacting this legislation will address issues of underreporting stops and ensure stops are legal and legitimate, as well as inform future policies. It furthers efforts of accountability and takes steps toward increasing trust between law enforcement and historically over-policed New Yorkers.

During the Bloomberg administration, the bias-based abuses of stop, question and frisk were ruled unconstitutional, and a federal monitor was put in place over the NYPD.   That monitor has recently reported an alarming rise in similar tactics, with 24% of stops considered unconstitutional and 97% of stops directed toward Black and Brown New Yorkers. Aggregating and assessing information about interactions on the streets is the most effective way to ensure that proper policies are in place and followed to establish better policing and safer streets, preventing the abuses of the past which saw more young Black men stopped in one year than lived in the city of New York at the time.

It was only through shared data that these abuses were addressed a decade ago, and as part of the Joint Remedial Process in the federal court ruling on stop, question, and frisk,  reporting on Level 1 and 2 stops, which is encompassed in today's legislation, was recommended to prevent future abuses.

Intro 586-A requires reporting only on “Level 1 and 2 investigative encounters,” defined in the NYPD Patrol Guide as interactions with a specific law enforcement or investigative purpose. Casual conversation, such as those which help strengthen community relations, are excluded from reporting. Reporting can also be accomplished in mere seconds on a smartphone, preventing undue burden.

“Deliberate efforts to mislead the public about this bill have created an environment of misinformation and misunderstanding – exactly the kind of confusion and conflict that hard data can combat,” continued Public Advocate Williams. “The How Many Stops Act merely requires quick reporting on investigatory stops, not every interaction. Whatever the fear mongering has fabricated, the reality is that this bill, crafted with NYPD input, merely requires sharing basic data on the number and nature of law enforcement stops. I believe that a department with the technological capabilities the NYPD has displayed will be able to do this reporting quickly and effectively.”

The second bill in the ‘How Many Stops’ Act, Intro 538, is sponsored by Council Member Crystal Hudson and requires the NYPD to report on instances in which an individual denies consent to a search.

“The How Many Stops Act is a common sense, good government package that will bring much-needed transparency to the NYPD,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson, Sponsor of Intro. 538. “I’m proud to have joined Public Advocate Williams, Council Member Avilés, and the scores of advocates, namely Justice Committee and Communities United for Police Reform, in the fight for the passage of this vital legislative package. We must assure our communities that the NYPD will be held accountable and that our City is committed to ending the culture of impunity and abuse that pervades the department. Once law, these bills will give New Yorkers a more complete picture of the police department's activities in our communities, mandating the full and accurate reporting of police interactions with the public, and ensuring the NYPD is adhering to the City’s Right to Know Act, creating safer communities for us all.”

The bill from the Public Advocate is one of five being voted on today, which also include legislation to ban solitary confinement, to streamline oversight access to police body camera footage, and to provide veterans with information about city services available to them.


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