MANHATTAN — The NYPD Commissioner has defended an internal police memo on stop-and-frisk obtained by civil rights lawyers opposed to the controversial NYPD policy, explaining that the citywide directive had nothing to do with an ongoing federal trial.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday that the March 5 memo, issued department-wide by Chief of Patrol Patrick Hall, was just a "reminder" to officers to better document their work.
"There was nothing nefarious about it," Kelly said at a promotions ceremony at One Police Plaza. "This is an ongoing process when you are in a big organization with 50,000 people there's certainly reminders that you have to put out."
"It had nothing to do with the trial," he added.
The memo directs officers to provide a more thorough account of their rationale for stopping and frisking people, something the civil rights lawyers have asked a judge to order the department to do in a federal class action civil rights suit against the policy.
But lawyers for the plaintiffs charge that the directive "amounts to an admission that the system in place is inadequate," they said in a statement.
“The NYPD has now apparently recognized the need for one piece of the necessary reform we’ve been insisting on for years and specifically requested in this case. Of course, policies on paper, as we’ve seen so vividly in this trial, are insufficient for actual reform, and to genuinely remedy the City’s illegal stops and frisks we need an independent monitor,” said Baher Azmy, the legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, in a statement.
Kelly, however, insisted that the change had been percolating throught the department since January last year, when a quality control inspection found officers in Queens precincts were not providing enough information on their UF-250 forms, which are required to be completed when a stop and frisk is performed.
"The origins of the memo, this particular [memo], came out in 2012. This is an ongoing issue with the department to make sure that officers make entries in their record book — memo book, as we call it," Kelly said.
"If you take action you should be making a memo book entry. This is not just dealing with a stop and question situation, [it's] dealing with a lot of other actions that police officers take," Kelly said.