Police Accountability

Police accountability work in New York City is shaped by almost daily events and headlines. BMC maintains the ability to respond rapidly – through direct action and media commentary – to issues and police actions that affect members of the Central Brooklyn community. At the same time, we work on long-term solutions that address the culture of policing and the policies that enforce it.

BMC is a campaign member of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), “an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, CPRlogo2bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD. Together we’re fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.”

Get Involved

BMC has formed the Police Accountability Working (PAW) Group. PAW members participate in and lead actions that will help ensure a healthy and mutually respectful relationship between the people of Central Brooklyn and those paid and entrusted to “protect and serve” us. Your leadership is needed now, more than ever. Email us at [email protected] to join the BMC PAW Group.

BMC’s current police accountability activities include:

  • Policy and Legislative Campaigns: Through BMC’s membership in Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), PAW members are part of citywide efforts to design, advocate for, and implement structural reforms to the NYPD and criminal justice system.
  • Mass Mobilizations: PAW members help organize demonstrations and acts of resistance aimed at challenging abusive policing practices and related forms of social injustice. These activities are often coordinated with allies and other social justice movements. Public demonstrations are not only an expression of outrage, but are strategically designed to bring public awareness to specific issues and to, over time, advance a policy agenda.
  • Political Education: Forums and teach-ins that provide a deeper understanding of the broader struggle for human rights.
  • Cop Watch Trainings: Hands-on trainings that position Central Brooklynites to video record police actions.
  • Know Your Rights Trainings: Trainings that enable ordinary people to understand their rights and options when involved in confrontations with the police and other law enforcement officials.

Click here for a list of CPR members and BMC Police Accountability Allies 

The Issue

We are aligned with CPR’s framing of the current policing problems in NYC and the remedies we are working towards. The following was originally posted on changethenypd.org.

The Problem
“Stop and frisk” and other discriminatory policing practices have spiraled out of control. In 1994, Mayor Giuliani and the NYPD adopted controversial “broken windows” policing strategies, which promote aggressive enforcement of minor offenses on the theory that this will prevent serious crime. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the NYPD has dramatically expanded this flawed strategy. Each year, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are wrongfully stopped, frisked, or searched. Many wrongfully receive a summons, or are even arrested. Some are even sexually or physically assaulted by NYPD officers. They are being targeted by an increasingly confrontational and arrogant police force, often humiliated in their own homes, schools and neighborhoods.

  • In 2011, the New York Police Department made over 684,000 street stops – a 14% increase over 2010 (and a 603% increase since 2002, Bloomberg’s first year in office)! Close to 90% of the stops resulted in no arrest or summons whatsoever.
  • Even when these stops yield arrests, almost all are low-level, many resulting directly from citizens questioning the rights of the police to stop them in the first place. While most of these arrests don’t result in criminal convictions, they often trigger severe consequences – including job loss, eviction, and even deportation of permanent residents who are not citizens.
  • Stop and frisk and other “broken windows” policing aggressively targets low-income communities of color, young people, homeless people, LGBT people, people with disabilities, immigrants, and women. Many people who have been stopped have reported intense harassment by police. Young people expect to be stopped every day, often multiple times a day, even in school.
  • These policies make us ALL less safe, by creating an atmosphere of fear of the police, instead of trust.

These policies are an outrage, violating our fundamental rights and even the most basic fairness in our city. This is not an acceptable approach to public safety in New York.

New York City needs a fundamentally different approach to policing and public safety, one based on cooperation and respect for communities – not on targeting and harassment.

  • We need to encourage policing and public safety practices based on cooperation and trust with community members.
  • Community members need to feel safe, and need to know that the NYPD will be held accountable. Someone needs to police the police.
  • Many stops, searches, summons and arrests are driven by the pressure on officers to hit quotas and stop a certain number of people and make a certain number of arrests. The police department needs to get rid of the system that turns members of our community into a way to hit quota targets.

Communities United for Police Reform is pushing for legislation that would substantially reduce the number of encounters between police and residents that are based on profiling and discrimination. We are calling on the New York City Council to pass legislation ending discriminatory “stop and frisk” practices and related discriminatory policing, ensuring respect of New Yorkers’ rights, and far more vigorous oversight of the NYPD. Additionally, we are calling for reforms to the citizen complaint process, so that reports of abuse, unlawful stops and improper behavior is taken far more seriously. Most importantly, making meaningful change in the way the NYPD interacts with New Yorkers every day will require a concerted effort in communities around the city. We will be on the streets, educating people about their rights, monitoring and documenting police abuse. And we will be in the courts and on the steps of City Hall and the state capitol, demanding change to the NYPD until these policies end. We need you to join our powerful movement to stop police violence.

Know Your Rights Trainings

Do you know your rights when you are approached by police or law enforcement? 

BMC is currently providing Know Your Rights Trainings which will equip you and your community  with the information you need when confronted by law enforcement officials. You will leave with an understanding of what law enforcement officials can and can’t legally do during routine stops and searches, and how to protect your rights from being violated.

Interested in scheduling a Know Your Rights training for your school, church, block association, or other neighborhood group in Central Brooklyn (Bed-Stuy or Crown Heights)? Fill out this form and we’ll make it happen.


Central Brooklyn Analysis

Why I’m Still Protesting
City Limits, Mark Winston Griffith, Dec 26, 2014
In every instance, we have explicitly fought against acts of violence in our communities, whether practiced by police or civilians. And over the years, we’ve protested gun trafficking and mourned neighbor-on-neighbor crime. Which is why, in the wake of the recent killing of two police officers just blocks away from my organization’s office, preceded by the shooting of a young woman in Baltimore, my organization has continued our social justice and community healing work, despite calls by Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo and others to end it. Read More.

The Mayor and The Protestors
WNYC, The Brian Lehrer Show, Dec 23, 2014
BMC’s executive director, Mark Winston Griffith and Board Member, Monifa Bandele, the senior programs & outreach manager at The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, join Opal Tometi, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter and executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Josmar Trujillo of New Yorkers Against Bratton to respond to Mayor Bill De Blasio’s call for a “temporary pause in protests in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of two NYPD officers.”

“We’ve always asked for peace, we have never advocated for violence… [The fatal shooting of two NYPD officers in BedStuy] is an alien act.” – Mark Winston Griffith. Read More.

People Get Your People
Deep Dish TV, Ferguson and Beyond, Dec 8, 2014
From Ferguson and Beyond, a town hall meeting organized by #BlackLivesMatterNYC, in Bed-Stuy. The panel included activists from the front lines of Ferguson and organizers fighting against police brutality in New York City. Here Brittany Brathwaite from Girls for Gender Equity talks about how those in institutions of power can use their privilege to effect change, and how racism and police brutality are a public health issue.

Ferguson and Beyond

Deep Dish TV, Ferguson and Beyond, Dec 8, 2014
From Ferguson and Beyond, a town hall meeting organized by #BlackLivesMatterNYC, in Bed-Stuy. The panel included activists from the front lines of Ferguson and organizers fighting against police brutality in New York City.

Broken Windows, Broken Policy
Amsterdam News, Djibril Toure, July 31, 2014
As a longtime resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, who directly experienced stop-and-frisk abuses and police misconduct and was a plaintiff in the initial federal lawsuit against discriminatory NYPD practices after the 1999 murder of Amadou Diallo by NYPD officers, I am greatly saddened by the fact our city appears to be risking a repeat of history, despite a difference in rhetoric and tone. Read More.

Stop and Frisk: the Human Impact
Center for Constitutional Rights, Jan-March 2013
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) launched an interactive map that houses podcasts of people telling their stories about being stopped by the New York Police Department (NYPD). This website illustrates the impact of stop and frisk on communities in New York.

BMC partnered with CCR to documented the impact of stop and frisk in Central Brooklyn. Listen here.