Case: DOJ Investigation of the Yonkers Police Department

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Case Summary

In 2007, the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), with the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, initiated a civil investigation of the policies and practices of the Yonkers, New York Police Department (YPD), pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3789d. On June 9, 2009, the…

In 2007, the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), with the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, initiated a civil investigation of the policies and practices of the Yonkers, New York Police Department (YPD), pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3789d.

On June 9, 2009, the DOJ issued a substantial 41-page Technical Assistance Letter. The letter noted concerns and made recommendations in the following areas: the content, organization and overall structure of the YPD Policy and Procedure Manual; use of force policies and procedures; investigation of citizen complaints; supervisory oversight structure; training program and materials; community relations; and personnel issues.

The report led to many years of negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement. According to the City of Yonkers, the investigation was officially completed in April of 2012. From 2012 to 2016, while the negotiations were ongoing, the City worked to make changes to its programs.

On November 14, 2016, the DOJ, the City of Yonkers, and the YPD reached an agreement. The agreement included provisions regarding use-of-force policies; evaluation, documentation, and review of uses of force; stops, searches and arrests; a misconduct complaint process; discipline; management and supervision; community policing; and training; review, reporting, and implementation.

More specifically, the provisions regarding use-of-force policies stated that YPD would: maintain use-of-force policies that define terms clearly, clarify use-of-force options available to officers, limit use of force to circumstances in which it is reasonable, provide that unreasonable force may yield consequences, and explicitly prohibit particular types of use of force.

The provisions regarding stops, searches and arrests specified that YPD would: maintain and implement clear policies on investigatory stops and detentions; permit such stops and detentions only where the officer has reasonable suspicion that criminal activity or a violation of law has been or is about to be committed.

Per the agreement, YPD agreed to develop a system to collect data on investigatory stops and searches, which will require recording specific details (including the officer’s name and badge number, the subject’s apparent race, ethnicity, gender and age, and the reason for the stop). Consultants would conduct compliance reviews to ensure that YPD has implemented the measures in the agreement and issue public reports based on their reviews.

The agreement was set to be terminated once two years had passed, provided that compliance was maintained for no less than 12 months.

As of May 2020, the agreement was still in place. YPD claims to be in “substantial compliance,” having completed 96-98 percent of the consent decree requirements. However, the agreement has still not been lifted.  

The Clearinghouse believes compliance reviews are ongoing.

Summary Authors

Richard Jolly (11/29/2014)

Julie Singer (3/10/2017)

Sophia Weaver (3/30/2023)

People


Attorney for Plaintiff

Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)

Bharara, Preetinder S. (New York)

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Dassin, Lev L. (New York)

Gupta, Vanita (New York)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Re: Investigation of the Yonkers Police Department

June 9, 2009

June 9, 2009

Findings Letter/Report

Press Release

Nov. 14, 2016

Nov. 14, 2016

Press Release

Agreement [Between DOJ and Yonkers Police Department]

Nov. 14, 2016

Nov. 14, 2016

Settlement Agreement

Yonkers Police Department and U.S. Department of Justice Sign Agreement Closing Investigation Into Alleged Police Practices

Nov. 14, 2016

Nov. 14, 2016

Press Release

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 2:45 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

DOJ Investigation of the polices and practices of the Yonkers Police Department

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

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

Yonkers Police Department (Westchester), City

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

Unreasonable search and seizure

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:

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Reporting

Monitoring

Warrant/order for search or seizure

Training

Order Duration: 2016 - 2018

Issues

General/Misc.:

Failure to discipline

Failure to supervise

Incident/accident reporting & investigations

Pattern or Practice

Racial profiling

Restraints : chemical

Watchlist

Policing:

Excessive force

False arrest

Improper use of canines

Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures

Pepper/OC Spray (policing)