Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York (DIA), et al. v. The City of New York, et al.
Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”) filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City Police Department and the City of New York on behalf of four individual plaintiffs who were unable to get into their precincts to make crime reports, attend community safety meetings, or otherwise access the services provided at stations throughout the five boroughs. Two disability rights organizations, Disabled in Action and Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, are also represented in the suit.
Individuals can go to station houses to seek refuge when they feel unsafe or to report crimes, file police reports, attend community affairs and services such as crime prevention programs, neighborhood watch meetings and drop off programs for expired medications. Yet Plaintiffs say they are regularly confronted with insurmountable steps at entrances and no reasonable alternatives for entry. They tell of lifts that are regularly broken or have missing keys necessary for operation, unmarked and unsafe alternate routes, front desks that they cannot see over and bathrooms that are too small for a wheelchair. Due to these barriers, persons with mobility disabilities are systemically denied equal access to the NYC’s police stations and the programs and services that they offer to the community.
Plaintiff Jean Ryan, who cannot independently access the police station closest to her home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, said: “People without disabilities can walk right in the door of any police station, but I have to wait until a police officer comes to get me, if I can get in at all. That is not equal access. I complained many times, but nobody seemed to care.”
“Most people can walk into a police station for help during an emergency or to participate in all kinds of community activities without a second thought,” said Joseph G. Rappaport, Executive Director of Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled. “Why should someone who uses a wheelchair or other assistive device be denied equal access and participation?”
Rebecca Rodgers, a staff attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, said, “It is unreasonable—not to mention illegal—for the NYPD and the City of New York to ignore the requirements of the ADA on this front for over 26 years.”
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
A copy of the Complaint is available below.