July 3, New York, NY
To police officials, a computer database full of the names and addresses of people questioned by officers in millions of street stops in New York City is a core tool in their fight to keep reducing crime.
The officials argue that the files — which include information about people never actually arrested or charged — have fed detectives essential clues for making arrests, particularly in some high-profile bias and hate crimes.
But to an increasing array of lawmakers, the database represents an unconstitutional inventory of mostly young blacks and Hispanics, many of whom, although they are determined to have done nothing wrong, have their names and addresses in the hands of a powerful law enforcement agency. There have been roughly three million street stops in New York since 2004, and by one count, 9 in 10 of the people stopped by the police were not accused of any crime or violation.
Now the debate has shifted to whether Gov. David A. Paterson should sign or veto a legislative remedy.
The State Senate and the Assembly passed a bill that would prohibit the police from saving the personal data of people who are stopped but not arrested or fined.
The bill has yet to land on the governor’s desk, but one sponsor, Senator Eric L. Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat, said that in a conversation on Wednesday night, Mr. Paterson “stated to me he sees no problem with getting this bill signed into law.”
Earlier Wednesday, when asked if he would sign the bill, Mr. Paterson said he would have to read it first. But he gave some hint of where he stood, saying, “I don’t see why you have a database on people who have not been found to do anything wrong, but just how far the bill goes is something I’ll take a look at.”
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg “will urge the governor to veto the bill,” a spokesman, Jason Post, said. By limiting the information that the Police Department “can record, electronically, in stop and frisks, the ability of police to solve subsequent crimes will be limited,” Mr. Post said.
One more reason to avoid any interaction with law enforcement, unless, of course, you called for them. One more reason to worry about what happens to the DNA collected of all who are arrested, remember there are some that aren't guilty of the crimes.