The New York Police Department has broken the law — yet again. And law enforcement officers blame it on unawareness of the law — yet again.
The NYPD has violated constitutional rights of citizens and breached their privacy by searching homes unlawfully, according to a report by the city’s police watchdog agency.
A review of 180 civilians complaints, out of 1,762 substantiated by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, found searches from 2010 to 2015 occurred due to two primary reasons: either old warrants were used or the police officer misunderstood the legal standards that allow police to search someone’s home.
The investigation found almost half the people whose human rights were violated lived in Brooklyn and were black residents. In addition to forced entry into homes and unwarranted searches, the report also revealed racial slurs, use of excessive force and discourteous behavior.
The review board recommended new training for the officers on how to conduct legal searches. The police department has said it was unaware of the report and was in the process of reviewing it. Sixty-four percent of the cases that have already been reviewed have been subjected to disciplinary measures.
The NYPD has also claimed unawareness of law on previous occasions. Just recently, the police department came under fire for continuing their stop-and-frisk policy, which was deemed unconstitutional years ago.
In this climate of intolerance, when civil rights activists have taken to the roads to address police brutality and racial profiling, it seems the police have taken cover behind the age-old tactic of “being unaware.” However, as they say, “ignorance of law is no excuse,” and the rule should apply not just to civilians but to police departments as well.