By Della Hasselle
MANHATTAN — Gov. David Paterson signed a controversial bill Friday banning a police database that stores the names of thousands of people who are detained but not arrested by the NYPD each year in stop-and-frisk procedures.
The NYPD "makes a mockery of the constitution and it stops now," the governor said before signing the bill.
Critics of stop-and-frisk procedures say that it targets minority groups, mainly African-Americans and Latinos. The procedure, Paterson said, leads to unfair surveillance on targeted suspects, and is an invasion of privacy.
"I would tend to think that our law enforcement authorities are so adept at watching people in the street that they probably have a reasonably good suspicion of who’s gonna commit a crime but a reasonably good suspicion does not have a place in democracy," Paterson said during a press conference.
The legislation, which does not put an end to stop-and-frisk procedures but bars the NYPD from keeping the names of those stopped, was supported by former State Sen. Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain, and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.
The bill was heavily criticized by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly before the bill became law.
"Albany has robbed us of a great crime-fighting tool, one that has saved lives," Kelly said in a statement.
The governor, however, said that Kelly was unable to produce any evidence that the policy was effective.
Over 560,000 people were frisked last year, and only about 12 percent of them were arrested or given summons, according to several published reports. Out of the people frisked, over 90 percent were of a minority group.
"I don’t think anybody, whether you’re black or white, I don’t think anybody would want to get linked with criminals because you live in the same neighborhood, and you happen to look like them," Paterson said during the press conference at the governor's Manhattan office.
Sen. Adams believes that abolishing the database system will result in a 50 percent decrease in the number of people stopped and frisked, but will make the police work more effective.
"We’re now no longer going to have a desire to feed the monster database," Adams said. "we are going to focus on the quality of the stop — the guy in the alley with the crowbar."