The Lindesmith Center* calls for just New York policing and end to Operation Condor

March 22, 2000

The Lindesmith Center joins 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement in calling for an immediate halt to Operation Condor, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's initiative to sharply escalate street arrests of low-level drug dealers.

The mayor ordered police commissioner Howard Safir to adopt this policy in the name of cutting the city's murder rate. While there is no evidence it will achieve this goal, Operation Condor's costs to New Yorkers are clear and alarming: this new front in the NYPD's drug war is costing taxpayers big money (overtime alone is estimated at more $24 million), undermining efficient court administration, eroding civil liberties, and fostering increasingly aggressive and violent police practices.

Operation Condor's incentive to push bust rates higher has led to the arrest of 18,000 New Yorkers, many for possession of marijuana. The city's court system, already overburdened, is more seriously clogged than ever as a result.

In addition, Operation Condor has shifted police strategy from observation of actual crime, followed by investigation, to tactics designed to induce crime. Citizens are targeted not because of actual evidence of wrongdoing, but on the basis of profiles subject to biases of race, class, and appearance.

Increased use of such profiles has had fatal consequences in at least two cases in the past month.

Two dead and 18,000 arrested in just two months is enough. Operation Condor must be abandoned.

*The Lindesmith Center, having merged with the Drug Policy Foundation is now The Drug Policy Alliance