NYPD boss Keechant Sewell claps back at fed report ripping department’s suspect stops
The Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD), Keechant Sewell, has objected to claims that the department’s revamped anti-crime unit is conducting illegal stops, as according to a recent federal report. The department’s federal monitor, Mylan Denerstein, found that 45 out of 184 encounters made by the Neighborhood Safety Teams in the second quarter of 2022 – or 24% – did not have a reasonable cause for the stop. However, Sewell stated that the errors made by the squads were often inadvertent and due to officers’ misunderstandings of reasonable suspicion. She also emphasised the training and oversight that the department is implementing to correct the deficiencies. Additionally, Sewell stated that the department’s own review of the same stops found an “error rate” that was six percent lower than Denerstein’s findings. The squad’s stops, referred to as “reasonable suspicion stops,” are legal and effective, according to Sewell, but must be done constitutionally. The Neighborhood Safety Teams were rolled out last year as a key initiative by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration to crack down on gun violence, and Sewell credited the squads for their role in helping reduce citywide crime. However, the federal monitor’s report raised concerns about poor oversight and insufficient accountability for unlawful stops.
What are the Neighborhood Safety Teams?
The Neighborhood Safety Teams are a revamped anti-crime unit in the NYPD that were rolled out last year as a key initiative by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration to crack down on gun violence.
What did the federal monitor’s report find?
The report found that nearly a quarter of the encounters made by the Neighborhood Safety Teams in the second quarter of 2022 did not have a reasonable cause for the stop, and that there were compliance issues with the squads’ oversight and accountability.
What is Commissioner Keechant Sewell’s stance on the federal monitor’s report?
Sewell objects to claims that the Neighborhood Safety Teams are conducting illegal stops and stated that errors made by the squads are usually inadvertent and due to officers’ misunderstandings of reasonable suspicion. She also emphasised the training and oversight that the department is implementing to correct deficiencies.
Is the Commissioner concerned about the disproportionate number of minorities subjected to stop-and-frisk?
Sewell stated that the NYPD is taking a “victim-centered approach,” as 96% of shooting victims are black or brown and 90% of homicide victims are black or brown. She added that the department is addressing crime spikes in communities where they are requested.
NYPD Chief Keechant Sewell responds to critical federal report on the department’s suspect stops.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell firmly rejected the notion that her department’s revamped anti-crime unit was engaging in deliberate, illegal stops. In response to a blistering federal report that scrutinized nearly a quarter of the interactions, Sewell stated that the majority of the unit’s errors were due to misunderstandings or miscommunications among officers. While the department conducted its own review and found an error rate that was six percent lower than the federal monitor’s findings, Sewell acknowledged that the stops had to be done constitutionally and with accountability. The monitor’s report warned of weak oversight of Mayor Eric Adams’ plainclothes units and uncovered that none of the stops had raised any concerns among supervisors. Although the units were a part of Adams’ initiative to combat gun violence, the report found that too many people were being stopped, frisked, and searched unlawfully. Sewell credited the Neighborhood Safety Teams for contributing to the reduction in the citywide crime rate, but also affirmed that the department would address any deficiencies and ensure that stops were victim-focused and lawful.