Mayor brings back NYPD plainclothes unit responsible for Eric Garner’s death


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NYPD anti-crime units

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is bringing back the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-crime unit just two years after it was disbanded. Anti-crime units generated countless excessive force complaints and were involved in the NYPD killings of Eric Garner in 2014 and Amadou Diallo in 1999. According to data collected by the Fatal Encounters project and reviewed by The Intercept, plainclothes officers represent just 6% of the NYPD’s total force but account for 31% of fatal NYPD shootings.

There have been at least 174 fatal shootings by on-duty New York City police officers since 2000, according to an analysis of data from Fatal Encounters, a website that tracks deaths involving police. Plainclothes or undercover police were involved in 54 of those deaths, while uniformed police were involved in 41 fatalities. Eleven cases involved both uniformed and plainclothes cops…

A 2016 NYPD report found that nearly half of officers involved in “adversarial conflicts” — “when an officer intentionally discharges his or her firearm during a confrontation with a subject,” according to the NYPD — were in plainclothes. The same report also found that specialty units, which include anti-crime teams, were involved in about one-third of incidents in which firearms were discharged in these encounters. The report attributes this to “the role of specialty units in proactively pursuing violent criminals.”

The reincarnated unit was also responsible for the searches of millions of young Black and Latino men at the height of the stop-and-frisk era.

Mayor Adams

Mayor Adams is enacting numerous other controversial policies in New York City, to the dismay of health care workers and advocates:

  • Adams ordered city workers to clear homeless encampments from the streets. “His administration has no plan to provide safe, single rooms where they can stay inside, and is relying instead on the tired and cruel old tactic of chasing those without shelter out of Manhattan,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director of Coalition for the Homeless.
  • Adams appointed three anti-LGBTQ individuals to City Hall posts. Fernando Cabrera, named as a a senior advisor in the mayor’s Office of Faith-based and Community Partnerships, once traveled to Uganda to praise the country’s bill criminalizing homosexuality. Gilford Monrose, a pastor who described gay marriage as anti-Christian, will work alongside Cabrera. Erick Salgado, appointed to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, is a pastor who has also expressed opposition to gay marriage.
  • Adams lifted the vaccine mandate for performers and athletes after lobbying by professional sports teams. “I think the same rules on vaccination should apply uniformly to all,” City Hall’s former Covid-19 senior adviser Jay Varma said in an interview. “If there’s a carveout for this group, why can’t any other group then raise its hand and say, I deserve a carveout too.”

NYPD’s rogue DNA database

The Legal Aid Society has brought a class-action lawsuit against the NYPD for “secretly taking and analyzing the DNA of people whom the police suspect of committing a crime without a warrant or court order and maintaining this DNA in an index where it is perpetually compared to past and future crime scene evidence.”

According to the complaint (pdf), the NYPD has nearly 32,000 DNA profiles, developed from samples taken without consent, in a “rogue DNA database.” Many of the targeted individuals are Black or Latino.

Plaintiff Shakira Leslie, a 26-year-old Black resident of New York City without criminal convictions, alleges she was held for interrogation in connection with a friend’s illegal firearm. During the interrogation, the police provided her with a cup of water which they collected and analyzed for her DNA. Leslie did not consent to provide DNA and the NYPD did not have a warrant or court order.

Ms. Leslie was never indicted for any crime in the case and ultimately all charges against her were dismissed. Despite her innocence, pursuant to its policy and practice, [the Office of Chief Medical Examiner] still placed Ms. Leslie’s DNA profile into the Suspect Index, where it is compared without suspicion against all past and new crime scene evidence involving DNA…

Because of a history of institutional racism and disparities in arrest rates in New York City, Black and Latinx people make up the vast majority of arrestees who are subject to the City’s DNA taking and indexing practice. And, with the City’s new genealogical investigative technique, the parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and even the distant relatives of suspects and arrestees can be swept into the City’s genetic investigations.