Gov. David Paterson signed legislation Friday that would stop New York City police from storing the names of hundreds of thousands of people who were stopped and frisked without facing charges, calling the practice “not a policy for a democracy.”
Paterson signed the law over vehement objections of New York City’s mayor and police commissioner, who said the city was losing a key crime-fighting tool. […]
Last year alone, the New York Police Department stopped 575,304 people, mostly black and Hispanic men, and recorded their names, addresses and descriptions into an electronic database. The stops are based on a standard of reasonable suspicion, lower than the standard of probable cause needed to justify an arrest.
Only about 6 percent of those stopped are arrested.
Critics have said information from such stops are an invasion of privacy and can lead to future police suspicion and surveillance. […]
“Civil justice, and I think common sense, would suggest that those who are questioned and not even accused of crimes be protected from any further stigma or suspicion,” Paterson said. […]
The automated database, believed to be the only one in the country, grew out of a law requiring police to keep details such as age and race on anyone they stop, and it was envisioned as a way to safeguard civil rights.