Veteran Bronx prosecutor finds NYPD is out of control
That’s the topic of today’s NY Times editorial on how police in New York are arresting people for trespassing in their own homes.
District attorney’s offices in New York City have generally supported the Police Department — or kept quiet about their reservations — during the escalating battle over the department’s stop-and-frisk program, under which hundreds of thousands of citizens are stopped every year, often for no reason.
But a hearing under way in Federal District Court in Manhattan is featuring an open and fiery dispute between the Police Department and an assistant district attorney from the Bronx, who has testified that her office began to have misgivings about the legality of some trespassing arrests as far back as five years ago.
The federal lawsuit, Ligon v. City of New York, was brought on behalf of people who say they were illegally stopped, given tickets or arrested on trespassing charges in apartment buildings, some in buildings where they lived. The suit focuses on the city’s two-decade-old “Clean Halls” program, under which police officers patrol private buildings with the permission of landlords.
Jeannette Rucker, a veteran prosecutor, recounted that her office began to have questions about many of the Police Department’s trespassing arrests in the past several years. She said Bronx judges “just started dismissing these cases left and right” because they believed that the officers had no legitimate legal reason for approaching the people who had been arrested — sometimes merely because they had been seen entering or leaving a Clean Halls building. Her staff also told her that judges were throwing out cases because the police had charged people with trespassing in their own buildings.
In a memo in April 2009, . . .