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Bill Seeks to Stop NYPD From Charging NYCHA $74M a Year for Patrols

By Serena Solomon | November 25, 2013 4:40pm
 Smith Houses on the Lower East Side.
Smith Houses on the Lower East Side.
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LOWER EAST SIDE — The New York City Housing Authority shouldn't have to pay $74 million each year for the NYPD to do its job, according to a Lower East Side elected official who proposed legislation Monday to ban the practice.

State Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents the Lower East Side, introduced a bill to end a 1994 agreement that enabled the city to charge NYCHA for the NYPD officers assigned to safeguard its 334 properties across the five boroughs.

"NYCHA residents are essentially forced to pay double for policing," said Squadron, who sponsored the bill, adding that it is "inequitable" for NYCHA residents who already pay for policing through taxes to also be on the hook for specific NYCHA-related police costs.

The legislation, called the Retail Anti-Profiling Act, would also ensure that off-duty NYPD officers hired by private businesses are not engaging in racial profiling, in the wake of controversial reports of minority customers being targeted at retailers including Macy's and Barneys.

"The Retail Anti-Profiling Act would bring much-needed transparency to the NYPD while finally ending this inequitable NYCHA [deal]," he said, referring to the 1994 memorandum of understanding in which the city announced the transfer of public housing policing to the NYPD.

The Retail Anti-Profiling Act would force the NYPD to disclose information about its Paid Detail Unit, which allows businesses to hire uniformed off-duty police officers. The bill would require the NYPD to reveal which companies hired off-duty officers and how much money they paid, as well as any policies they are asked to uphold, including racial profiling, Squadron said.

None of the officers involved in the Macy's or Barneys incidents have been linked to the NYPD's Paid Detail Unit, Squadron's office said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office and the NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cash-strapped NYCHA has cited their financial problems as the reason it needs to lease its land to private developers to build luxury condos, a controversial plan that NYCHA estimated would bring in up to $50 million per year.

Squadron has criticized NYCHA's plan to lease its land.

Some tenants of NYCHA developments are suing the housing authority over its plan to allow private developers to build 4,000 apartments on eight of its complexes throughout Manhattan. The proposed towers would take over existing parkland, parking spaces, recreation areas and a community center, but they would generate between $30 million and $50 million each year to help NYCHA pay for much-need repairs.

Other critics of the land lease plan, including Councilwomen Margaret Chin, Rosie Mendez and Melissa Mark-Viverito, have also slammed the amount of money the city charges NYCHA for its police work.