It’s difficult to figure out which is more troubling: that Sylvia Keith was charged with criminal trespassing in her friend’s apartment building, or that the cop who arrested her – and testified against her – apparently wasn’t even there when the incident occurred, Newsday reports. The judge found Keith not guilty.
Legal Aid lawyers charge that the well-intentioned New York Police Department trespassing initiative has turned from a well-intentioned strategy – to keep drug dealers and other troublemakers out of the hallways of public housing developments – to a policy run amok. They say too many innocents, virtually all poor or working-class black and Latinos, find themselves targets of arrest by officers who are pressured to meet quotas. Then, those charged with trespassing face prosecutors who push forward with the case, regardless of its merits. The result: more more “criminals” now have a rap sheet consisting of nothing more than trespassing arrests. Often, their lawyers say, police don’t even bother investigating why someone is in a building. In April, trespassing arrests were up 25 percent since 2002, with 15,939 people arrested in 2006 compared with 12,796 in 2002. Now, trespassing arrests are up so significantly that they are on a pace to hit 27,532.