Legal Aid Chief Attorney Speaks Out In Favor Of Council Legislation To Address Improper NYPD Conduct
TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013

At a press conference at City Hall on June 24, Steven Banks, The Legal Aid Society's Attorney-in-Chief, joined with Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, other Councilmembers, and community leaders to support enactment of two provisions of the Community Safety Act for which Councilmembers Williams and Lander are the prime sponsors. One provision would create an independent inspector general for the New York Police Department. The second provision enhances protections against racial profiling by the police.

Banks said that "[b]ased on our experience in handling more than 300,000 individual legal matters in all five boroughs each year for low-income New Yorkers with civil, criminal and juvenile rights legal problems in addition to law reform litigation benefiting all two million low-income children and adults in the City, The Legal Aid Society and our front-line staff know that this legislation is urgently needed to prevent continued harm resulting from improper and unlawful policing.  The legislation is especially important because it provides independent oversight of the NYPD just like other City agencies have, and it expands existing prohibitions on police profiling to protect New Yorkers from profiling based on, for example, gender identity and expression as well as homelessness and housing status." He added that The Legal Aid Society is the oldest and largest legal services organization in the United States and, along with others, is counsel in federal class action litigation to end the City's unlawful stop, question, frisk and arrest policies and practices that affect residents and their guests in New York City Housing Authority developments as well as in State court litigation to stop unlawful marijuana arrests.

The press conference was organized by the Coalition for Police Reform of which The Legal Aid Society is a member. William Gibney, the Director of The Legal Aid Society's Criminal Practice Special Litigation Unit, and Nancy Rosenbloom, a staff attorney in the Special Litigation Unit, represent The Legal Aid Society in the Coalition.