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Stop and Frisk violations?

April 12, 2010 8:41:48 PM PDT
A Bronx resident says he's tired of being treated like a criminal by the NYPD. He's says he's been stopped and frisked so many times, he's lost count.

Now, he's decided to fight back, and he's not alone.

There were a record number of stops last year and rarely was a weapon found or an arrest made.

Feeling helpless, one young man decided to document what he sees as crime-fighting tactics gone to far.

He carries his laptop computer and video camera wherever he goes. Non-violent weapons to fight back against a Police Department that, he says has been relentlessly stopping and interrogating minority men in his Bronx neighborhood for no real reason.

"It's the only outlet I have of delivering the message. I mean, the real video proof of what's really going on, that's the only way to do it," said NYC Resistance.

To get that message out, he's putting the stop and frisk videos he shoots on YouTube under the name NYC Resistance.

He has recorded dozens and dozens of stops in just the past year.

Here he follows a group of officers for one hour as they walk the neighborhood stopping to question and frisk school students.

The stops all appear to be routine, carried out the same each time: police stop the student or students, then question and search them for weapons and drugs.

Nothing is found.

Cops move on and repeat the process.

NYC Resistance, who requested we conceal his identity for fear of police retaliation, says this happened to him repeatedly and it's happening now to another generation.

"These kids are growing up and if I don't do something about it and other people, adults don't do something about it their kids are going to suffer the same fate that we're suffering now. Having our rights violated, feeling humiliated, feeling depressed," NYC Resistance said.

The NYPD and the Mayor have argued that "stop and frisk" policies have contributed greatly to the city's historically low crime rate.

Still, our nation's Constitution in the 4th amendment guarantees all of us protection against unreasonable searches.

NYPD Criminal Procedure Law clearly states "A police officer may stop a person when he reasonably suspects that the person has or is about to commit a crime."

"If the officers are acting under reasonable suspicion than it's permissible," Jon Shane, Asst. Professor of Criminal Justice explained.

Criminal Justice professor Jon Shane, a 20-year veteran of the Newark Police says the NYPD appears to be following guidelines.

"A lot of that looks appropriate?" said Shane.

"There is a suspicion that they committed a crime or are about to commit a crime. It's just hard to believe?" questioned Eyewitness News reporter Jim Hoffer.

"That's all permissible," said Shane, "I can walk up to students and engage in conversation."

"But you can't pat them down if you don't suspect they've committed a crime or carrying a weapon?" Hoffer asked.

"You're absolutely right, I can not. However, if I do or they give me further reason or if they consent to it than I can," Shane explained.

His camera has also recorded special plainclothes police units stopping drivers.

In video after video, police tell those in the car to get out of their vehicles, and in every case, they are searched, questioned and told to move to the back of the car, as another officer searches inside the vehicle.

Eventually, the trunk is also searched.

The amount of times this is captured by NYC Resistance's camera suggests it is common practice.

"That's the crime control part of police engaging citizens when they believe reasonably based on suspicion that something is about to occur," Shane said.

The video shows that in nearly every stop, when the search is over, the drivers are allowed to go; no arrest is made, no weapons or drugs are found.

The NYPD's own data suggests that's almost always the case.

While police made a record number of stop and frisks last year, nearly 600,000, less than 2% of the time did cops find a weapon or drugs.

The Center for Constitutional Rights sued the city in federal court over this issue.

"The vast majority of the time, people are being stopped and they're not doing anything illegal," said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The NYPD would say the video shows police doing their job to ensure safe neighborhoods, to some, it's proof of liberties being ignored by cops who need reined in.

"The video's telling people that we're being targeted by the police department," said NYC Resistance.

The civilian complaint review board received more complaints last year against the NYPD than at any time in its history.

We should also note that the NYPD repeatedly ignored our attempts to get their response to this report.

If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com and follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates


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