NYPD officers patrolling private buildings must have reasonable suspicion a person is trespassing in order to stop him or her. A new internal memo, the New York Daily News reports, imposes a set of guidelines around the NYPD’s Operation Clean Halls initiative “apparently for the first time.”
The controversial program started in 1991 as an effort to reduce crime. Building owners who worried about illicit activity in their buildings could register with police, which allowed the NYPD to come in and arrest people found committing a crime. The initiative came under attack in 2012 when the NYCLU filed a class-action lawsuit and, without the NYPD having any guidelines in place, a judge found many of the stops to be unconstitutional. The new guidelines are part of the settlement of the stop-and-frisk lawsuit.
The NYCLU applauded the actions:
“This is a simple directive that makes a simple point: officers cannot stop or arrest people simply because they are in or near a Clean Halls building,” said Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU’s associate legal director.
“Beyond that, officers remain free to enforce the law when they see suspicious activity.”
However, two police unions are angry over the new rules. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” said Sergeants Benevolent Association Ed Mullins. “The great number of people who complained don’t speak for the majority of people who speak for safer communities.”
Patrolman’s Benevolent Association went one step further and mourned the end “of the successful Clean Halls program,” saying that, “The court is protecting the rights of criminals while blatantly violating the rights of residents to have a home free of threats and criminality.”
(Photo: Dave Hosford)