A New York City police database culled from random police checks came under fire yesterday as a civil-liberties group filed a lawsuit and two City Council members questioned the practice, the Wall Street Journal repors. The New York Civil Liberties Union accused the New York Police Department of violating constitutional privacy protections and breaking state laws that require arrest and summons records be sealed unless there is a criminal conviction.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the database “has proven to be invaluable” in solving cases. He declined to comment on the legality of including people who weren’t convicted of a crime. Since 2003, the police department has stopped nearly three million people and arrested or given summonses to 360,000. The lawsuit seeks to have records from the stops and arrests that didn’t lead to conviction expunged from the database. Of 149,753 people stopped by police between Jan. 1 and March 31 this year, 9 percent were whites, though whites comprise 44 percent of the city population. City Council members Christine Quinn and Peter Vallone, spoke out against keeping the information indefinitely in the database.