The NYPD practice of stopping and frisking people — usually black and Latino men — on public streets also carries over into some 16,000 New York City buildings. As part of “Operation Clean Halls,” landlords have given officers permission to enter residential buildings, often with their own set of keys, resulting in tens of thousands of stops that the New York Civil Liberties Union says are unconstitutional. Today, the group filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the city and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Civil rights lawyers say police officers view the invitation to enter — denoted by a metal sign outside a building — as a license to roam hallways, laundry rooms and stairwells questioning people and making arrests on charges of trespassing that are sometimes unjustified. Some residents feel compelled to carry identification when doing mundane tasks like retrieving mail or doing laundry for fear of being arrested for trespassing, the suit said.
Beyond that, officers have extended this practice to sidewalks around the buildings that participate in the program, according to lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The suit says the stops violate the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Fair Housing Act. The whole thing is available here.