Monday, June 4, 2018

NYPD Conducting Warrant Searches During Medical Distress Calls

Civil Rights Attorney Urges Department
Officials to Reconsider Its Directive 


By Gary Glennell Toms

In 2016, the New York City Council passed legislation indicating that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) had to publish its Public Patrol Guide online to ensure transparency. According to a New York Daily News report, “The guide — which contains a slew of rules and procedures for cops to follow on everything from conducting a stop and frisk to handcuffing students at school or responding to a bicycle crash — will also have to be publicly updated within 24 hours whenever the department makes a change.”

Subsequently, in 2018, the publication reported that all NYPD officers would receive iPhones in effort to implement a hi-tech approach to fighting crime. New York City residents and legislators at the state and local level applauded these decisions, but From The G-Man has obtained an NYPD Interim Order/Revision that may pose serious concerns and questions about the department’s use of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus going forward.

On May 17, as per the order, officers throughout the five boroughs were instructed to use the department-issued phones to conduct warrant searches when responding to medical distress incidents, which are classified as “Aided” calls. People experiencing asthma and heart attacks, diabetic shock and other ailments are subject to the searches, even if no crimes or violations have been committed.

The 2018 New York City Police Department Public Patrol Guide procedure, listed on pages 181 through 183, is outlined in a revision to Patrol Guide (P.G.) 216-02, “Preparation of Aided Report”. The revision states, “In order to ensure the safety of all uniformed members of the service, when AIDED REPORTS are entered in the Finest Online Records Management System (FORMS), a search will automatically be conducted on Department mobile devices to alert members that an aided has a felony warrant or an INVESTIGATION CARD (PD373-163) labeled, ‘Perpetrator – Probable Cause to Arrest’.” Officers were also instructed to comply with the procedures listed under P.G. 208-3, Arrests – General Processing.

Revision to Patrol Guide (P.G.) 216-02, “Preparation of Aided Report”
(Click on the document to increase its size.)

From The G-Man presented the three-page section of P.G. 216-02 and the Interim Order to Andrew G. Celli, Jr., a New York City-based civil rights attorney and a founding partner with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, who provided the following assessment.

“The New York City Police Department’s decision to provide Investigation Card information to officers responding to calls for medical attention – information that could result in the police making an arrest without a warrant – is very concerning. Police officers not only enforce the law; they also assist people in times of emergency. Any policy that might discourage people from calling 911 in an emergency for fear that it will result in a warrantless arrest must be carefully considered. Moreover, the use of ‘I-Cards’ as a basis to arrest people is deeply problematic from a constitutional and civil liberties perspective in all events. I would urge the Department to reconsider the Interim Order in light of these constitutional concerns.”

On May 31, Jessica Tisch, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Information Technology, was contacted by email and asked to provide responses to the following questions.

NYPD officers started receiving iPhones four months ago. Were the phones paid for through the NYPD budget or some other entity?

According to an Interim Order/Revision of the New York City Police Department's 2018 Public Patrol Guide, Section 216-02 ("Preparation of Aided Report"), "a search will automatically be conducted on Department mobile devices to alert members that an aided has a felony warrant or an INVESTIGATION CARD (PD373-163) labeled, "Pepetrator - Probable Cause to Arrest". Why are NYPD officers conducting warrant searches on people in medical distress or when no crimes or violations have been committed?

Did Apple, Inc. create the software programs for the NYPD phones, including the one that enables the department to conduct warrant searches?

Tisch has not responded.

Apple, Inc. was also contacted via email. The aforementioned questions were posed to the multi-billion dollar company, but the following query was also submitted.

NYPD officers have been instructed to conduct warrant searches (via department-issued iPhones) on people in medical distress ("aideds"), even when no crimes or violations have been committed. Is Apple, Inc. aware of this? If not, what is the company's response?

The company has not responded.

If statements are submitted, From The G-Man will publish them in a follow-up report.  

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