New York City Police Department

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NYPD Legal Bureau | Civil Enforcement Unit

The Civil Enforcement Unit (CEU) uses civil litigation in both judicial and administrative venues to expand the NYPD’s ability to respond to crimes and quality of life issues.  CEU attorneys work with enforcement personnel to address crime trends and conditions (e.g., firearms, driving while intoxicated, narcotics, prostitution, weapons, trademark counterfeiting, auto crime, and gambling).  CEU attorneys regularly participate in field enforcement operations, including the execution of closing orders under the nuisance abatement law and participation in multi-agency enforcement operations to target crimes and safety conditions associated with businesses engaged in the sale of alcoholic beverages (whether licensed or unlicensed).

The CEU incorporates attorneys into the Department’s crime fighting effort.  By working closely with police commanders, CEU attorneys expand the Department’s range of responses to crimes and quality of life offenses.  By litigating civil actions such as nuisance abatement and forfeiture cases against criminals, the Unit is able to address crime and quality of life offenses by removing the economic incentive to engage in these offenses.

One of the CEU’s main forfeiture initiatives focus on vehicles used during crimes involving illegal firearms.  The CEU utilizes the forfeiture case to enhance the Department’s goal of reducing the number of illegal firearms on the streets by adding an additional economic incentive for people to not transport illegal firearms in their vehicles as well as by working with detective squads to develop information that will lead to further seizures of illegal firearms. 

In its other main forfeiture initiative, the CEU also takes a very effective role in deterring people from driving while intoxicated.  While CEU attorneys aggressively pursue forfeiture of the vehicles used by repeat offenders or in egregious circumstances, CEU allows many offenders to retrieve their vehicles pursuant to a forfeiture settlement agreement which involves evaluation of the offender for alcohol abuse by an independent state-certified counselor and the completion of any recommended treatment prior to the release of the vehicle.  This dual approach has proven to be a very effective tool for increasing public safety on the streets as well as encouraging people who need assistance to seek and obtain it. 

Another CEU initiative, “Operation Losing Proposition,” focuses on the seizure and forfeiture of the cars of “johns”, the prostitutes’ customers, thereby deterring street prostitution. 

Other examples of the Unit’s forfeiture work include forfeiting the expensive tools of chop shop operators, vehicles involved in dangerous drag racing on public streets and vehicles of individuals who are found to be in possession of controlled substances or marijuana in their vehicles after a lawful stop.  The list of examples is without end as the CEU is legally authorized to pursue forfeiture of any property which was used to facilitate a crime or constitutes the proceeds of a crime and the list grows as crime conditions change.

CEU has also played a role in addressing noise conditions throughout the City by working to ensure that “boombox” cars and loud motorcycles are seized and held until noise violations have been adjudicated.

Using the Nuisance Abatement Law, the CEU effectively addresses the problem of drug sales in commercial buildings.  Many of these buildings are infested with narcotics activity and other crimes which are a destabilizing influence on a neighborhood. Working with precinct and narcotics commanders, the CEU obtains closing orders for commercial properties which are operated by drug dealers.  In order to reopen, the landlord must select new tenants who are approved by the Department. 

CEU also obtains closing orders under the Nuisance Abatement Law to address other crimes, including but not limited to, the sale and/or possession of stolen property; the sale and/or possession of drug paraphernalia; illegal gambling activity; the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages (e.g. unlicensed, to minors or “afterhours”); unlicensed security at bars and clubs; prostitution; illegal sale of weapons; unlicensed vehicle dismantling; and sale and/or possession of counterfeit merchandise.

Contact information for the Civil Enforcement Unit of the NYPD Legal Bureau:

2 Lafayette Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Attn: Civil Enforcement Unit, NYPD

Telephone: (917) 454-1100

Inquiries with regard to seized vehicles should be directed to (917) 454-1111.  Please call in advance to check the status of your case and for hours of operation.

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