NEW YORK (PIX11) — A memo circulated within the NYPD instructs officers to no longer detain or question individuals simply for being present in public housing or low-income developments.
The memo was issued as part of a settlement directed by the court in the case of Ligon vs. City of New York; a class action lawsuit which, accused officers of using a policy that allows police to patrol private apartment buildings, to unlawfully harass the people who live in those buildings.
The memo issued March 10 states, “a uniformed member of the service may not approach a person merely because the person has entered or exited or is present near a building enrolled in the trespass affidavit program.”
The Trespass Affidavit Program was developed in 1991 as a way to combat drug dealing and other crimes. Once a landlord registered the building in the program officers were allowed to conduct patrols throughout the building and arrest people who were not tenants or legitimate visitors for criminal trespassing.
It was during one of these patrols last November that Akai Gurley was shot and killed by Officer Peter Liang. Gurley was going to his partner’s East New York apartment in the Pink Houses at the time. The 28-year-old was unarmed and Liang has been indicted on criminal charges.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association criticized the new policy.
PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement, “The courts have given those with criminal intent the right to loiter in places that they have no legitimate reason to be. The court is protecting the rights of criminals while blatantly violating the rights of residents to have a home free of threats and criminality. The personal rights pendulum has swung way out of control.”