Eric Adams’s New NYPD Units Are Engaged in Illegal Stop and Frisk

Photo: Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News/TNS via Getty Images

When Mayor Eric Adams announced last year that he would revive the NYPD’s anti-crime units, critics were concerned because of the units’ history of brutality. They had been disbanded in 2020 following weeks of protests after the murder of George Floyd, as they were frequently subject to complaints of racial profiling and aggressive tactics.

Adams insisted these new Neighborhood Safety Teams would be more skilled and better trained to avoid any possible infringement on the rights of New Yorkers. “We are going to learn from the past so we don’t repeat the past, and we will never use, under my administration, any abusive targeting tactics that go after people based on their ethnicity and where they live,” he said in an interview at the time.

Now, a new report issued by the department’s federal monitor suggests that critics’ fears have been validated. In her report, released on Monday, Mylan Denerstein writes that officers with the Neighborhood Safety Teams are stopping, frisking, and searching members of the public at an “unsatisfactory level of compliance,” adding that the department’s oversight of these tactics is “inadequate at all levels.”

Denerstein’s team audited reports and recordings of stops made by the units for six months of 2022 and found Neighborhood Safety Team officers had “reasonable suspicion” for 76 percent of stops, meaning nearly a quarter of stops had been made unlawfully. The report also determined that illegal stops were made at a rate “nine percentage points higher” than the 2020 rate for the department as a whole. Of the people stopped by police in these encounters, more than 97 percent were Black or Hispanic.

Some of those incidents include officers stopping someone “based on an officer’s observation of a bulge on a person without further description” or simply because a person looked back at an officer or changed the direction in which they were going. Notably, in 230 car stops, only two searches found weapons, while another two uncovered unidentified contraband.

The rates were worse in some areas: In the 43rd Precinct, which covers the Longwood and Hunts Point neighborhoods in the Bronx, 59 percent of their stops were unlawful and 68 percent of frisks were conducted without sufficient evidence that the person was armed.

Denerstein concludes that, though some units have better compliance than others, the department must take “corrective action immediately” and increase accountability. Her team plans to conduct a more extensive audit as a result.

During a press conference following the report’s release, Adams held up the obituary of Claudia Quaatey, a 16-year-old girl shot and killed by a stray bullet in Queens while sitting in her friend’s car last month, saying that everyone should read it.

“These are the people, these are the children I’m talking about. So when the monitor writes her report, we should also talk about how many of the almost 10,000 illegal guns we removed off our streets,” he said.

He continued, “So, good, great, be your statistician, but I got to stop Claudias from losing their lives and that’s what I hear from the public.”

New NYPD Units Are Engaged in Illegal Stop and Frisk