Last Friday Governor Paterson signed legislation ending the NYPD's electronic database of innocent individuals who wind up on the receiving end of the controversial "stop and frisk" policy. The citywide database had swelled to include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of over 1 million people, most of whom are black or Hispanic and were never charged with a crime. By law, the NYPD is required to erase the electronic database, but that doesn't mean they can't track this information the old fashioned way!
On the same day Paterson signed the bill, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly—a man who loves his stop 'n' frisk—sent a memo to all the precincts clarifying that "the law does not affect an officer's ability to collect identification information at the scene of a street encounter, and does not affect the preparation, copying or filing of stop, question and frisk report worksheets. Commanding officers shall ensure that copies of stop, question and frisk report worksheets are maintained in a precinct file."
This is probably going to be embraced by the notoriously analog NYPD, and maybe even create new jobs for an army of file clerks toiling in vast filing cabinet warehouses. It's sort of romantic when you think about it—reading about an innocent civilians' personal information on a computer screen just never compared with the tactile sensation of holding a thick stack of privacy violation in your hands. And the lawmakers who sponsored the bill aren't worried about the steampunk database either; Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries tells the Daily News, "They're not as susceptible to manipulation or inadvertent transmission, or the same degree of access."