NEW YORK — Governor David Paterson signed legislation yesterday that eliminates a database of thousands of people stopped and frisked by New York City police without facing charges, calling the practice “not a policy for a democracy.’’
Paterson signed the law over vehement objections from New York City’s mayor and police commissioner, who said the city was losing a key crime-fighting tool.
But the governor said the policy that targets criminals will not be affected by eliminating a database of people who were stopped, then released.
“This law does not in any way tamper with our stop-and-frisk policies,’’ Paterson said. “What it does is it disallows the use of personal data of innocent people who have not done anything wrong. . . . That is not a policy for a democracy.’’
Critics have said information from such stops, mainly of blacks and Latinos who are innocent, can lead to future police suspicion and surveillance. Police say the database helped to solve crimes, including antigay and anti-Hispanic attacks.
“Albany has robbed us of a great crime-fighting tool, one that saved lives,’’ Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. “Without it, there will be, inevitably, killers and other criminals who won’t be captured as quickly, or perhaps ever.’’
Paterson said he had met with Kelly and spoken to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but had not been persuaded that the database protects the city from crime.
“Civil justice, and I think common sense, would suggest that those who are questioned and not even accused of crimes be protected from any further stigma or suspicion,’’ Paterson said.