New York Law Journal: Class Action Seeks to Halt NYPD’s ‘Clean Halls’ Program

A number of New York City residents have filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging “Operation Clean Halls,” a program permitting the police, with the consent of landlords, to patrol thousands of private apartment buildings and stop people accused of trespassing and other illegal activity. “NYPD officers routinely detain residents of Clean Halls buildings and their visitors without individualized suspicion of unlawful activity and make arrests or issue summonses without probable cause of criminal activity,” the New York Civil Liberties Union and others claim in Ligon v. City of New York, 12-civ-2274 (See Complaint).

According to the NYCLU, officers made 329,446 stops on suspicion of trespassing between 2006 and 2010 in the buildings enrolled in the program, many in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods. But only 7.5 percent of those stops resulted in arrests and 5 percent in the issuance of a summons.

The NYCLU, joined by Bronx Defenders and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, claims that police practices violate the civil rights of residents and their guests and the federal Fair Housing Act. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages plus an injunction to prevent the police from indiscriminately demanding the identification of people in and around the buildings and from arresting people without determining if they have a reason to be there. Other remedial action sought includes citywide standards for participation in the program, police policies on entering the buildings, the training of officers and the establishment of a protocol to reduce illegal arrests. The action was filed on March 28 in the Southern District.

“By challenging uninvited individuals, police are providing a level of safety to tenants that residents of doormen buildings take for granted,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said in a statement.

By Andrew Keshner

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