A judge ruled on Monday the New York Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” crime-fighting tactic unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin called it “indirect racial profiling” because it targeted racially defined groups, resulting in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics while the city highest officials “turned a blind eye,” she said, according to Reuters.
“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” Scheindlin wrote in her opinion. As part of her ruling, Scheindlin ordered the appointment of an independent monitor.
The Democratic mayoral candidates, playing to their hardcore electorate, jumped on the opportunity given to embrace the ruling.
Criticizing the practice, Bill de Blasio called to overturn mayor Bloomberg’s veto on an Inspector General. “The courts have just affirmed facts that too many New Yorkers know to be true: under the Bloomberg Administration, with the acquiescence of Speaker Quinn, millions of innocent New Yorkers — overwhelmingly young men of color — have been illegally stopped,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. The overuse and misuse of stop-and-frisk hasn’t made New York a safer city, it has only served to drive police and community further apart.”
The Democratic frontrunner in the runoff, former comptroller Bill Thompson blasted the NYPD and mayor Bloomberg for targeting minority groups as ‘suspicious’ resident. “As I have said, the present stop and frisk policy violates the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers, but especially innocent blacks and Latinos,” said Mr. Thompson. “Instead of treating our police and people with respect, the Mayor and Commissioner Kelly have imposed what are effectively quotas on the police and treated entire minority communities with suspicion… I will uphold the law and work with the Federal monitor to make sure New Yorkers never have to choose between their constitutional rights and their safety.”
Seizing the moment, John Liu capitalized on his call for the abolishment of Stop-and-Frisk. “The judge’s call for reforms must be heeded, and — longer term — the tactic should be abolished,” Mr. Liu said in a brief statement. “It’s time to put an end to stop and frisk once and for all.”
Anthony Weiner joined his colleagues in criticizing the act, vowing to reform the NYPD’s policies of reducing crime. “The policy of using stop and frisk as a deterrent rather than a tool for the pursuit of actual criminals has to change,” said Mr. Weiner. “I would hope that the court considers withholding judgment on the need for a federal monitor until after a new mayor and police commissioner are in place in January.”
“Last week, I laid out a plan for correcting the abuses of stop and frisk. We must include invalid stops in regular CompStat reports,” Mr. Weiner added. “We should outfit police officers with lapel cameras to record interactions. And we should adopt a policy of focused deterrence that works to target known criminals rather than whole communities.”
Siding with the mayor on the practice of Stop-and-Frisk, yet admitting it had been overused, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined Mr. de Blasio in calling for the appointment of an Inspector General. “That’s why the City needs -and I passed -and Inspector General for the NYPD,” Ms. Quinn boosted in a statement released. “The NYPD Inspector General will help review and provide guidance to ensure that stop and frisk is done in a constitutionally sound manner that focuses on the quality of the stops, not the quantity.”
While disagreeing with his rivals’ slamming the NYPD’s practice of Stop-and-Frisk, former City Council member Sal Albanese saw the positive side in the judge’s ruling. “Don’t let my opponents fool you: today’s ruling does not close the book on this issue. Despite appointing a federal monitor, Judge Scheindlin didn’t embrace the reckless proposals of my opponents. She didn’t call to abolish stop and frisk as John Liu had hoped. She didn’t call for the city to waste money on a toothless inspector general as Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn would like. She didn’t compare police officers to vigilantes, like Bill Thompson did, or to Nazis, like Anthony Weiner did.”
“The vast majority of New Yorkers won’t be fooled. Unlike my opponents, they exercise basic common sense. They know that the NYPD has made us safer than ever,” Mr. Albanese added. “They know we need more officers on patrol to keep it that way. Most importantly, they know that there is only one Democrat who they can trust to stand up for our officers rather than kick them around like a political football.”
Republican mayoral hopeful called, however, for Mayor Bloomberg to appeal the court’s decision. “Our Constitution is a living document and I disagree with some of Judge Scheindlin’s conclusions regarding the use of Stop, Question and Frisk and the Fourth Amendment<‘ Mr. Lhota said in a statement. “I urge the mayor to appeal the decision to delay implementation of a federal monitor. The NYPD is one of the most closely scrutinized law enforcement agencies in the country with oversight from New York City’s five district attorneys, two U.S. attorneys, the New York State Attorney General and the City Council. The last thing we need is another layer of outside bureaucracy dictating our policing.
“Stop, Question and Frisk has been an invaluable tool keeping our city safe and saving lives. Our progress in reducing crime is fragile–this weekend the city had 17 shootings in a single day. Implementing a federal monitor will have a dramatic impact on proactive police work that we simply cannot allow to happen for the safety of all New Yorkers,” he added.
- New York Judge Orders Police Stop-and-Frisk Monitor – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Stop-frisk violated rights: judge (nydailynews.com)
- Candidates React to Stop and Frisk (wnyc.org)
- Civic leaders, mayoral candidates praise stop-and-frisk ruling (newsday.com)