The “Clean Halls” program that allows New York City landlords to give police officers keys to their buildings is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed against the New York Police Department.
The New York Times reported that a suit seeking class action status was filed today in Manhattan’s Federal District Court to stop the program that invites police officers to enter buildings and roam hallways, laundry rooms and stairwells to question people in some 16,000 private buildings, mostly in the Bronx.
Lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union are behind the suit, which details specific cases in which residents of privately owned buildings were stopped even though they hadn’t committed any crime. For example, a 17-year-old boy was allegedly stopped, questioned and held in the building’s lobby after returning from a store to buy ketchup for dinner.
Residents of “Clean Hall” buildings say they are also forced to discourage friends and family members to visit them for fear they’ll be stopped and questioned. The Times said the suit is similar to another one involving stops inside public housing projects, and the Police Departments approach to stop-and-frisk safety which is generally perceived as aggressive.
A police department spokesperson defended the program to the Times saying that “by challenging uninvited individuals, police are providing a level of safety to tenants that residents of doormen buildings take for granted.” [NYT]