Case: DOJ Investigation of Suffolk County Police Department

No Court

Filed Date: 2009

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On November 25, 2008, the LatinoJustice PRLDEF of New York filed a complaint letter with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division demanding that the federal government look into the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD). They alleged that SCPD had deprived Latinos equal access to the law, both by failing to adequately investigate crimes committed against Latinos by whites and by discouraging Latinos from seeking assistance from local law enforcement agencies. Though it made no ref…

On November 25, 2008, the LatinoJustice PRLDEF of New York filed a complaint letter with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division demanding that the federal government look into the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD). They alleged that SCPD had deprived Latinos equal access to the law, both by failing to adequately investigate crimes committed against Latinos by whites and by discouraging Latinos from seeking assistance from local law enforcement agencies.

Though it made no reference to the complaint letter, on September 1, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York initiated a joint investigation of the SCPD, pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141. On September 13, 2011, the United States issued a Technical Assistance Letter which provided preliminary observations, advice and recommendations. These recommendations included modifying policies for patrolling and policing in the Latino community, updating reporting policies of the police department's hate crimes unit, revising procedures for misconduct investigations, implementing greater supervision and accountability procedures, providing additional training to officers based on specific outcome markers, and enhancing community outreach programs.

On January 13, 2014, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. The settlement incorporated the recommendations of the Technical Assistance Letter. Furthermore, it was agreed that a compliance coordinator would be appointed to coordinate compliance and implementation activity. Finally, SCPD agreed to produce a self-assessment compliance report every six months until the agreement terminated. The agreement was set to terminate in three years, but could end sooner  if SCPD maintained substantial compliance with each of the settlement provisions for at least twelve months.

The DOJ released compliance assessments on a regular basis. On June 23, 2017, the DOJ reported that the SCPD had made “substantial progress” in implementing the Settlement Agreement, particularly with respect to hate crimes and internal investigations of police misconduct, but “considerable work remain[ed].” 

The DOJ released the most recent report on January 27, 2023. SCPD reached substantial compliance with nearly all of the provisions of the Settlement Agreement, and SCPD was in partial compliance in the remaining three areas: traffic-stop data, policies related to language access, and Spanish-Language Access to the County’s website. First, the SCPD’s traffic stop data must be captured in a more reliable and transparent manner. Second, SCPD must monitor 911 calls to make sure that callers were getting sufficient access to language services. Third, SCPD must translate forms available on the website into other languages. Monitoring remains ongoing. 

Summary Authors

Richard Jolly (11/28/2014)

Sophia Weaver (5/2/2023)

People


Attorney for Plaintiff

Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)

Capers, Robert L. (New York)

Coon, Laura (District of Columbia)

Currie, Kelly T. (New York)

Attorney for Defendant

Brown, Dennis M. (New York)

Expert/Monitor/Master/Other

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Re: Suffolk County Police Department Technical Assistance Letter

Sept. 13, 2011

Sept. 13, 2011

Findings Letter/Report

United States Agrees to Comprehensive Settlement with Suffolk County Police Department to Resolve Investigation of Discriminatory Policing Against Latinos

[Suffolk County Police Department]

Dec. 3, 2013

Dec. 3, 2013

Press Release

Agreement between the United States Department of Justice and Suffolk County Police Department

Jan. 13, 2014

Jan. 13, 2014

Settlement Agreement

Convenio Entre el Departamento de Justicia de los Estados Unidos y el Departamento de Policía del Condado de Suffolk [Settlement Agreement (Spanish)]

Jan. 13, 2014

Jan. 13, 2014

Settlement Agreement

Correspondence Re: Assessment of SCPD's Compliance with the Settlement Agreement

June 26, 2015

June 26, 2015

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Correspondence Re: Assessment of SCPD's Compliance with the Settlement Agreement

Dec. 14, 2015

Dec. 14, 2015

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Third Report Assessing Settlement Agreement Compliance by Suffolk County Police Department

April 18, 2016

April 18, 2016

Findings Letter/Report

Fourth Report Assessing Settlement Agreement Compliance by Suffolk County Police Department

Jan. 19, 2017

Jan. 19, 2017

Findings Letter/Report

Fifth Report Assessing Settlement Agreement Compliance by Suffolk County Police Department

June 23, 2017

June 23, 2017

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Ninth Report Assessing Settlment Agreement Compliance by Suffolk County Police Department

Jan. 27, 2023

Jan. 27, 2023

Findings Letter/Report

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:47 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Policing

Special Collection(s):

Traffic Stop Litigation

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2009

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Department of Justice investigation of the policies and practices of Suffolk County Police Department

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Suffolk County Police Department (Suffolk), County

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, 34 U.S.C. § 12601 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 14141)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Available Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Findings Letter/Report

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Provide antidiscrimination training

Implement complaint/dispute resolution process

Reporting

Required disclosure

Order Duration: 2014 - 0

Issues

General/Misc.:

Language access/needs

Discrimination Basis:

Immigration status

Language discrimination

National origin discrimination

Race discrimination

Discrimination Area:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Affected Language(s):

Spanish

Affected National Origin/Ethnicity(s):

Hispanic

Policing:

Excessive force