Judge rules NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional

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In July, minority groups and Queens politicians held a rally reaffirming their support of the Community Safety Act. THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre
In July, minority groups and Queens politicians held a rally reaffirming their support of the Community Safety Act.

Score another win for opponents of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Monday that the police department’s use of the policy is unconstitutional and suggested the appointment of a monitor to reform it.

“I find that the city is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights,” Scheindlin wrote. “The city acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks.”

The ruling comes months after the City Council approved the Community Safety Act, which contained a bill to easy it easier to take the NYPD to court over discrimination cases. Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the Community Safety Act a few weeks ago and criticized Scheindlin’s decision.

“Throughout the trail that just concluded the judge made it clear that she was not at all interested in the crime reductions here (in the city) or how we achieved them,” Bloomberg said at a press conference today.

He later added, “Through the case we didn’t believe that we were getting a fair trial and this decision confirms that suspicion.”

Minorities groups have been fighting the policy, saying that stop-and-frisk is unfairly used against black and Hispanics. Scheindlin confirmed this belief with her judgment.

“In practice, the policy encourages the targeting of young black and Hispanic men based on their prevalence in local crime complaints,” Scheindlin wrote. “This is a form of racial profiling.”

Scheindlin didn’t rule to dispatch the policy completely, but just to reform it.

“The opinion does not call for the NYPD to abandon proactive policing and return to an era of less effective police practices,” Scheindlin said.

Proponents of stop-and-frisk disagreed with Scheindlin’s ruling and called the decision to add a monitor to the program unnecessary.

“The NYPD does not need an additional monitor,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr, although he did agree though that the policy should be reformed. “We can agree on that and move forward to continue reform stop-and-risk but make sure that continues to happen so that we save young lives.”

Opponents of the stop-and-frisk policy are embracing the ruling whole-heartedly.

“The ruling issued by Judge Scheindlin only confirms what so many New Yorkers already know, that the way stop, question, and frisk has been implemented is a violation of people’s constitutional rights,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “The public wants the police to keep them safe, and the reforms mandated by this ruling will help hold the NYPD accountable, while also forcing changes to policies that will build a stronger relationship between precincts and the communities they are trying to protect.”

Bloomberg said they city will appeal the decision.

 

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