For many years, there have been complaints that police officers were confiscating condoms during arrests and pointing to them as evidence that the person with them was using them for prostitution, but now, there's an official change in policy from the NYPD. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Bianey Garcia said she knows what it's like to be falsely accused and arrested for prostitution. The evidence that she said the New York City Police Department used against her was that she was carrying condoms.
"They squish my face to the wall. They take my bag, they empty everything to the floor and they found two or three condoms, and they arrest me for prostitution," Garcia said.
Garcia said she wasn't selling sex. The organization she works with, Make the Road New York, has been fighting the policy of officers using condoms as evidence in prostitution cases. Many other groups found the policy troubling as well.
Now, the police department has had a change of heart on the issue, saying condoms will no longer be used as evidence in individual cases. If a person is arrested with condoms, police will secure them for safekeeping along with other personal items and return them when individuals are released.
Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the move and said the old policy had to be changed.
"A policy that actually inhibits people from safe sex is a mistake and is dangerous," he said. "There's a number of ways that you go about putting together evidence, and I have absolute faith in Commissioner Bratton and his team, and they felt that this was not the right away to go, that the previous policy was not the right way to go, and that they could be effective in gathering evidence without it."
During the peak of the stop-and-frisk controversy, community groups complained that many people, whether they were involved in prostitution or not, stopped carrying condoms because they feared that they could be charged with prostitution if police found them.
Mateo Tabares also works with Make the Road New York.
"The NYPD has had the misconception that carrying more than five condoms will equal to prostitution, when in reality, it just equals safety," Tabares said.
The NYPD said condoms will still be used as evidence in long-term sex trafficking and prostitution investigations.