The New York Police Department is illegally refusing to disclose information on civil forfeiture, charges a lawsuit being filed today by the Bronx Defenders organization, reports the New York Daily News. The group The Bronx Defenders plan to file a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit that says NYPD won’t provide requested information on policies and procedures involving cash and property seized during arrests, which could total “tens of millions” of dollars every year. This information is subject to release under public records laws, the legal aid group said.
The Bronx Defenders submitted a “broad” Freedom of Information Law request in 2014 seeking information. After 19 months and “numerous extensions and delays” the NYPD finally responded by turning over a copy of its patrol guide and 14 pages of documents that didn’t provide insight into the practice, Bronx Defenders alleged. The NYPD publicly discloses “Unclaimed Cash & Property Sale” in its budget, a line item exceeding $7 million last year. “Taking people’s property affects not only people convicted of a crime but it impacts everyone who’s arrested,” says Adam Shoop, who’s leading the lawsuit. He said over 80 percent of the more than 300,000 arrests in New York City per year are for low-level offenses, and in “ vast majority of those cases, some form of personal property is taken.”