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Are New York police operating secretly?

In a recent article published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU is saying that it has not been able to get information about the policies and practices of 23 different police departments in the state. The ACLU asked for information about police practices concerning detentions, traffic stops, using force, complaining about misconduct, surveillance tech. and racial profiling -- but all it received was red tape in return.

By way of the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), New York police must respond swiftly and completely to information requests. Furthermore, only a narrow set of records should fall into categories where they are not shareable with the public. However, instead of providing the information requested by the ACLU, the police departments sometimes denied the requests or claimed that they didn't have sufficient resources to respond. The ACLU was left confused by the secrecy of police departments in this regard.

What to do if you get arrested during a protest

There have been a lot of protests in New York City recently. Maybe you have already participated in some or are thinking about joining the next one. Whether you protest against police brutality, a decision by the President on immigration or something else, you should know your rights and what to do if things get ugly.

Even during peaceful demonstrations, it is possible that you can face arrest. Here is a guide for protesting lawfully and what to do if you end up under arrest.

Former corrections officer sentenced to 30 years in prison

In the violent and difficult world of prisons, corrections officers are sometimes far worse criminals than the people they are charged with keeping in line. This fact became apparent with the conviction of an ex-prison guard from Rikers Island Jail in New York. The guard was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his involvement in the death of an inmate.

The 47-year-old prison guard was convicted of charges relating to the death of a 52-year-old prisoner. The prisoner was pinned down, while the convicted guard kicked him, resulting in death from brain bleeding. The corrections officer was further convicted of falsifying records, obstruction of justice and conspiracy relating to his efforts to hide the beating.

What is the history of the Civil Rights Bill of 1866?

The first civil rights bill -- the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 -- became law on April 9, 1966, when the House of Representatives overrode the veto of President Andrew Johnson. According to the language of the bill, "all persons born in the United States" were "declared to be citizens of the United States." It's important to note, however, that the bill did not provide citizenship to indigenous Americans.

The bill stated that all citizens would have "full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property." The Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was a radical measure at the time, and according to the radical Republicans who supported the legislation, it was an appropriate next step following the passage of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery on Dec. 18, 1865. According to New York Representative Henry Raymond, the bill was "one of the most important bills ever presented to this House for its action."

Advice for New York residents facing a false accusation

False criminal accusations are much more common than most New York residents think. When a false criminal accusation happens, it means that the accused person is charged with a crime that he or she hasn't committed. Even worse, the accused person could go to jail and lose his or her rights and freedoms in the event that the false accusation leads to a conviction.

To prevent false accusations, or if you have been falsely accused, here is some general information you'll want to keep in mind:

  • Always ask for a search warrant: Even if you don't have anything to hide, when an officer asks to search your residence, you should respond with the following words, "Do you have a search warrant?" You'll want to have a physical document showing why they are searching your home, what they're suspicious of you having done, and this could help to later invalidate the document and/or defend yourself against any charges that result.
  • The criminal justice system doesn't care if you're innocent: All defendants will be seen and treated as if they are innocent by the New York court system. However, this means that someone who is innocent is treated the same as someone who might actually be guilty. Don't believe that police and the prosecution will be trying to reveal your innocence. In fact, they could be working against you, doing their best to gather and uncover anything that makes you appear culpable.
  • Think hard before accepting a plea bargain agreement: The prosecution might offer you a plea deal, and threaten you that conviction is likely. They might tell you that a plea deal is the best chance you've got to reduce the severity of your punishments, but if you're truly innocent, accepting a plea deal may not be your best course of action. Speak with your criminal defense attorney before accepting any kind of plea offer.

What constitutes a false arrest?

When a police officer arrests someone, there is an assumption there is probable cause to do so. However, numerous people are falsely arrested and imprisoned every year. According to an article from the New York Post, anywhere between two and five perfect of prisoners should not be in prison. 

Although there are similarities between a false arrest and false imprisonment, there are some key differences. False arrests are far more common because they also encapsulate unlawful searches and seizures. It is important to remain aware of what constitutes a false arrest in case it ever occurs to you. 

Police violence against women of color

Two words that no person of color wants to think about are "police brutality." However, the reality of misconduct, racial profiling and the overuse of force by law enforcement officers is something that every minority has to remember. According to a recent book, "Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color," female minorities are particularly at risk of being the victims of police violence, but their stories are often hidden from public view.

According to the police misconduct lawyer who wrote the book, women of color are the frequent -- yet invisible -- victims of police violence. These women include females who identify with the following labels: indigenous, black, lesbian, trans, cisgender, Middle Eastern, Asian, Latin, gender nonconformist, sex worker, mothers, mentally ill, girls in schools and disabled.

When traffic stops involve racial profiling

Racial profiling is a problem that is seemingly an epidemic in law enforcement agencies in New York and across the nation. In traffic stops, whether a driver may be breaking the law often seems to matter less to officers than the color of the driver's skin. 

This even extends to celebrities. Two NBA players discovered that their successes on the court did not protect them from traffic stops and vehicle searches.

Man files police misconduct suit against White Plains police

A businessman from Westchester has filed a lawsuit against the White Plains police claiming police brutality. The multimillion-dollar lawsuit alleges that authorities brutalized the man without any reason. A lot of the incident was caught on surveillance camera.

The video shows the 72-year-old man attempting to enter the elevator of an apartment building last January. Next, White Plains police can be seen stopping him. He was headed to assist his fiance who was in the throes of a dispute with her adult daughter. The man tried to tell the police that he could bring resolution to the matter quickly. However, police refused to let him go up the elevator.

Prisoner holding times and the right to receive a speedy trial

Every person accused of a crime will remain innocent until -- and only if -- he or she is proved to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt in court. However, when police arrest someone for allegedly committing a crime, the individual will temporarily lose the right to freedom.

In a lot of cases, suspected criminals can get released from jail and maintain their freedom until their trial concludes. However, there are also numerous instances when a court will continue to detain an accused person due to a flight risk or other reasons.

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