If you’re one of the 575,304 people stopped and questioned or frisked by a New York City police officer last year, your name might be in a database, where, the police commissioner says, it will remain “indefinitely.”
On Wednesday the New York Civil Liberties Union sued to stop the practice, claiming that the NYPD policy violates state laws requiring arrest records to be sealed in cases where guilt of a crime is not found.
The name of anyone who is busted or given a ticket goes in the database. But the vast majority of those stopped by the NYPD are not arrested or given a summons. However, even if they aren’t found to be doing something wrong, people who are asked for their name and give it (they don’t have to) are in the database as well.
There, says Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, it will stay “indefinitely, for use in future investigations.”
The NYCLU argues that since state law requires that records in criminal cases that end in dismissal or acquittal, or with a conviction or guilty plea for a non-criminal violation (like disorderly conduct), be sealed, the NYPD database violates that law.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two men, one from Harlem and one from Clinton Hill, but the NYCLU asks the court to certify a class of all the people whose names are in the database even though they weren’t convicted of crimes.
Kelly has said that the stop-and-frisk policy “has played a major role in the reduction of crime in New York City.”