The Atlantic: New York's Operation Clean Halls Program Challenged

In 1991, New York City created a program that has allowed NYPD to arrest apartment dwellers within their own hallways and homes with little to no cause. Created by Mayor David Dinkins' administration, Operation Clean Halls purpose was to combat illegal activity in apartment buildings, particularly in high-crime areas. In some Bronx neighborhoods, nearly every private apartment building is enrolled in the program. In Manhattan alone, there are at least 3,895 Clean Halls buildings. In a subset of Clean Halls buildings, police officers conduct regular floor-by-floor sweeps, called vertical patrols, and engage in particularly aggressive stop, question, frisk and arrest practices.

Operation Clean Halls program causes illegal stops, search and trespassing arrests; targets black and Latino New Yorkers The rights of Latino New Yorkers are being violated by the NYPD’s enforcement of Operation Clean Halls, a part of the Department’s stop-and-frisk program that allows police officers to patrol thousands of private apartment buildings across New York City, according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed in March by the LatinoJustice PRLDEF, New York Civil Liberties Union and Bronx Defenders.

Tenants of the thousands of buildings enrolled in the program and their guests are at a heightened risk of subjection to unjustified and unlawful NYPD stop-and-frisks or trespassing arrests, according to the suit. Many tenants who live in Clean Halls buildings are restricted in their ability to maintain familial ties and friendships due to the use of aggressive police tactics in their homes. The program is part of a citywide phenomenon of suspicionless police stops and arrests that primarily impact communities of color.

“Countless Latino and black youth in New York City have their first encounter with law enforcement shrouded in the false premise that underscores the NYPD’s Operation Clean Halls program – a program that illegally and falsely targets them for the alleged crime of trespass, oftentimes, in their own buildings,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “These encounters and arrests undermine their confidence in the criminal justice system and potentially derails careers and lives with little to no benefit for the public safely of all New Yorkers. Hopefully, this lawsuit will shed light on this continuing problem.”

Read the entire story from The Atlantic here.

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