This week, it came to light that the New York City Police Department is requiring its officers to take more notes when they do stop and frisks, and new testimony in the stop, question and frisk trial has also put the focus on documentation. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Several years ago, police officer Cormac Joyce apparently had a complaint filed against him by a civilian he had stopped on the street.
"He was shown a picture of the complainant, who is Latino, and his response was, 'He looks like half the people in the Bronx,'" said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "And to me, again, that epitomizes what we were saying in our opening about racial stereotyping. To the New York Police Department, all Latino men, all black men are essentially the same."
Joyce, who is now a New Jersey state trooper, took the stand this week, along with six current members of the NYPD, in a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging how the department uses its controversial stop, question and frisk policy.
What's emerged is that in each case, the officers' memories and the required paperwork have been incomplete or inconsistent, making it difficult to determine whether the stops were lawful.
"As the officer testified Thursday morning, he had nothing written down besides Mr. Floyd's name and his date of birth," Charney said. "So then, when he was asked about what happened during the stop, he either didn't remember or continued to change his story. And that's exactly the problem. Without the proper documentation, we're not going to have any way of recreating what happened during these stops."
Officers are required to fill out a form and record the details of stop, question and frisk incidents in their personal memo books. Supervisors then sign off on both the form and the book.
But a supervisor who took the stand Thursday said he was unsure of the rule requiring memo book entries for all officers involved.
"For a supervisor to not even know what the rules are is very concerning to us," Charney said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that the department often reminds officers of the rule.
"We are always encouraging officers to make memo book entries about the actions they have taken," Kelly said.
The plaintiffs' lawyers are asking the courts to require the NYPD to increase documentation on why individuals are stopped and frisked and undergo independent monitoring to ensure that the department complies with that, as well as its existing regulations.
"They can write as many memos as they want, as many patrol guide sections as they want," Charney said. "Until things change on the street, we are not going to be satisfied."