Police Reform - How Many Stops Act

By Hubert Plummer posted 02-04-2024 04:54 PM


I wrote about police reform back in 2021[i].  Now the New York City Council has taken a stand.  The council passed the How Many Stops Act[ii] in late December, 2023 with a 35-9 vote.  This law would require NYPD officers to make a record of every level 1 and 2 encounter.

Police investigative encounters with the public are categorized into levels.  Level 1 is the lowest and is a Request for Information.  Level 2 is a Common Law Right of Inquiry and Level 3 is known as a Terry Stop.[iii]  A Terry Stop is defined as “any encounter between a civilian and a uniformed member of the service in which a reasonable person would not feel free to disregard the officer and walk away.”  This is set out in the NYPD Patrol Guide procedure No.: 212-11.[iv]

“Under current laws, cops must log information about the race, ethnicity, age and gender of any person they stop as part of a so-called Level 3 encounter. They must also provide basic details about what led to the Level 3 encounter and if it resulted in any use of force, frisking or other enforcement action.” [v]

The How Many Stops Act will require that a record be made for all Level 1 and Level 2 encounters.  Officers will have to log basic information for these stops, information like the persons’ race, gender, age and whether any force was involved.  The NYPD will also have to provide online quarterly reports on stops to the public.

Mayor Eric Adams vetoed the bill citing the burden of paperwork on the officers and department.  Mayor Adams is a former police officer and has been a staunch advocate of the police.  He supported Stop & Frisk policy even after it was deemed unconstitutional a decade ago.  In fact the procedure is still being used by the NYPD.[vi]

This week the City Council voted to override the veto and the override passed 49-2.[vii]  Adams and the police unions fought the law.  Obviously the police don’t want to have people looking over their shoulder, but there is a long history of racial profiling and abuses by the police.  The police will have to provide this information which will provide data to monitor their practices.

[iii] So named from the 1968 US Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio.



The author[s] is solely responsible for this blog submission.  It does not represent the position of the New York State Bar Association or its Committee.