As police departments reevaluate their encounters with citizens on the streets in a post-Ferguson era, the New York Police Department will begin giving “receipts” to those stopped, questioned, or frisked but then allowed to go on about their day, reports the Christian Science Monitor. On Sept. 21, beat cops will start giving any person they stop, but do not end up arresting, an information card that will explain why he or she was stopped in the first place. The card, now being dubbed a “receipt,” will include the officer's name and badge number, as well as information on how to make a complaint, if necessary. Just a few years ago, New York's famous mean streets included one of the nation’s most aggressive police departments. Police flooded high-crime neighborhoods, stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of people each year, a proactive policing tactic meant to nip crime before it started.
But nearly 9 of 10 of those stopped were never arrested or charged with a crime, and more than 85 percent of those stopped were black and Latino men. The new receipt program represents a dramatic turnabout for the department. Most experts believe its is the first of its kind, and its timing is significant. It could resonate beyond New York, if successful. “This is all over the literature now – police legitimacy, fairness in policing,” says Edward Connors of the Institute for Law and Justice in Williamsburg, Va. “There's no solid science behind it yet, but from the psychology field, it's been a theory that's been tested and has shown a lot of promise: that if you treat people fairly and give them an explanation – maybe they're not happy, like in the case of someone who gets a traffic ticket – but they understand and they might feel that some justice has been done.”