The New York Police Department is yet again dealing with controversies over alleged unconstitutional police behavior.
Out of 600 stops reported by NYPD over a period of three months in 2015, almost one-third were deemed unconstitutional as their documents did not show sufficient reason of suspicion to carry out frisking.
The stop-and-frisk policy was deemed a violation of basic human rights in 2013, yet NYPD officers continue to conduct themselves much in the same way before the ruling was passed. The reason: Police officers remained unaware of the new reforms or were ambiguous about what was expected of them. Still others complained they were evaluated based on the number of stops they make.
“Many police officers, including supervisors, are not well informed as yet about the changes underway or the reasons for them and, therefore, have yet to internalize them,” said Peter Zimroth, an attorney who was federally appointed to monitor the department after the ruling was handed down. “Many appear not to understand what is expected of them.”
What’s even more baffling is that this complaint is not a new one. Just recently, the findings of a wide-scale investigation on the Chicago Police Department’s recording equipment came to light, which showed damage and lack of use of dashcams. In their defense, many cops explained they were specifically told not to use equipment for traffic stops during their training. However, unknown to those officers, the police department’s policies had been updated years ago, yet many of the cops were not re-trained, apparently due to the high cost of re-education thousands of officers.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri citing the city council challenged several measures in a draft police reform agreement — one of which was the high cost of police reforms and training. Even the DOJ admits the process is expensive and not without flaws.
Just in Los Angeles, it took more than a decade for police to complete the required reforms at a cost of over $15 million — and that was considered one of the most successful cases of police reforms.
Even though implementing reforms and conducting routine trainings are very costly for some departments, for some forces like the NYPD and Chicago Police Department, which are notorious for power abuse, it may be the only way to bring about significant change.