The Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) is a new project formed in April 2011 by the Senior Policy Advocate of the Urban Justice Center, Robert Gangi. Through research and analysis, public education, policy advocacy, and coalition building, PROP aims to stop wasteful, ineffective, unjust, illegal, bullying, homophobic, transphobic, and racially biased police practices.
Every day, the city's police engage in objectionable practices that harm people and communities; young black and brown men stopped and frisked for no apparent reason, people in psychiatric crisis, clearly disoriented thrown to the ground, handcuffed, and locked up, LGBTQ persons called derogatory names, questioned rudely, or inappropriately touched, sex workers arrested for simply carrying condoms or forced to have sex in return for their release, street vendors hassled, fined, and arrested for violating arbitrarily enforced minor rules, homeless people roughed up – their belongings often destroyed – and apprehended for begging on the subway or sleeping on a park bench.
NYPD officers often harass or mistreat the city’s most vulnerable people. The marginalized groups subjugated to this harsh treatment have little political standing and are viewed as virtually powerless to effectively oppose abuse or neglect by the NYPD.
Currently, the NYPD is accountable to no political figure including the city's current mayor, or any government or civic body. Its commissioner is an iconic figure whose administration reports to no one when it sets arrest priorities and other department policies. Such unlimited power has proven to be dangerous. Experience shows that when powerful law enforcement agencies operate without checks and balances or oversight, abuses and corruption are inevitable. That is what Attica and Abu Ghraib teach us. That is what recurring police scandals that have blighted New York’s landscape all too often teach us.
New York City should establish a strong, independent entity that monitors and assesses police priorities and policies, effectively investigates abusive conduct and has the authority to apply sanctions.
New York City policymakers should also abolish the quota system. The application of so-called productivity goals robs officers in the street of individual discretion, and drives much of current everyday NYPD practices – the unnecessary summonses and arrests, the rude, disrespectful conduct, the false charging of innocent people.
New York City should also implement collaborative problem-solving measures that cut crime while stabilizing rather than disrupting communities. Building positive rather than hostile relationships with local residents will help provide New Yorkers of every race and income level with the chance to fully experience a safer, livable, and inclusive city.
Publications and Literature
"Ray Kelly - the Wrong Choice," Urban Justice Center, August 2011
"New York City's Failure: Harsh, Unjust Police Tactics," November 2011
"PROP Fact Sheet," November 2011
"PROP Petition," December 2011
"Whose Police Department?," Alternet, December 21, 2011
Alternet recently published "Whose Police Department?," an op-ed by PROP Director Robert Gangi. The piece's critical point is that recent public comments by Mayor Bloomberg at MIT and those of some NYPD officers on Facebook, alarming in and of themselves, are all the more troubling because they reflect deep, systemic problems related to the Department's harsh and objectionable everyday practices that inflict serious harm on our City's people and communities. Opinion pieces like these are part of PROP's continuing effort to expose, address, and correct the NYPD's wasteful, ineffective, illegal, unjust, homophobic, transphobic, racially biased and bullying policies and practices.
Do you want to help the Narratives Project continue its important work? PROP has released a video campaign on IndieGoGo, a fundraising platform for all types of passionate projects, and we need your help. You can make a big difference by donating any small (or large) amount and by sharing our video far and wide. All donations will go toward post-production costs, editing, and filming equipment for future Narratives films. The Narratives Project, comprised entirely of volunteers and interns, has been working diligently to create an aggressive public education campaign by filming and sharing real stories from real New Yorkers who have had first hand experiences with the unjust, unfair, racist, and homophobic NYPD policies and practices. For examples of the work done thus far check out the PROP YouTube Channel. And be sure to donate to and share the IndieGoGo video campaign with your friends, family, coworkers, activist networks, and neighbors. For more information or to find out how to be involved in this project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.