The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD regarding data related to car stops

The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued the NYPD, alleging that the police department’s failure to release records on police car stops is an effort to conceal racial disparities in traffic enforcement.

The human rights group aims to uncover the details surrounding traffic stops and filed the lawsuit last week citing violations of open records laws in New York and repeated delays in providing the data.

Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU’s legal director, stated that the group had previously sued the NYPD over street stops and gained access to an electronic database, which they used to reveal the program’s abuse and racism over a decade ago.

“More than a decade later, the lack of NYPD transparency has forced us to return to court for the same level of detail on vehicle stops,” Dunn added. “Data plays a critical role in exposing and challenging abusive and discriminatory policing.”

In February, The News reported that there were 673,120 vehicle stops in 2022, which is equivalent to the number of street stops during the peak of the stop-and-frisk controversy over a decade ago. This data was collected for the first time under the terms of a new local law and was provided to the City Council.

According to a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the police data on vehicle stops lacks comprehensive information to understand which police units are conducting the stops and where they are taking place. The data, which provides demographic breakdowns for those stopped and lists stops for each precinct, reveals that Black drivers were stopped the most.

Out of the 673,120 vehicle stops in 2022, 77% of them (about 518,000) involved a summons issued to the driver, while arrests were made in just over 2% of the stops (about 15,000). Additionally, searches were conducted in around 13,000 of the stops.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD for not releasing electronic databases that could reveal more information about police vehicle stops, including which units are conducting them and where they are taking place.

The NYCLU, in a Freedom of Information Law request, sought an electronic database to provide more transparency about the stops, but the NYPD only provided Excel spreadsheets to the City Council, which were described as insufficient.

The police department failed to meet two deadlines for providing the database, prompting the lawsuit.

The NYPD said it will review the lawsuit.