Citing “overwhelming evidence” that the New York Police Department is running a centralized stop-and-frisk program that has led to thousands of unconstitutional stops, federal judge Shira Scheindlin certified a 2008 class action suit challenging the controversial policy, reports the New York Law Journal. Scheindlin found New York City’s attitude toward the suit “deeply troubling.” She criticized the city’s Law Department for stating that a court order to block the practice would amount to “judicial intrusion” and arguing that no injunction could guarantee that suspicionless stops would never occur or would occur in only a certain number of cases.
The judge noted that the vast majority of New Yorkers who are unlawfully stopped will never file a lawsuit in response, and class-action status was created for just these kinds of cases. The lawsuit alleges that the NYPD purposefully engaged in a widespread practice of concentrating its stop-and-frisk activity in black and Hispanic neighborhoods based on their racial composition rather than legitimate non-racial factors. The lawsuit said officers are pressured to meet quotas for stops, and they are punished if they do not. Scheindlin wrote that “defendants’ cavalier attitude towards the prospect of a ‘widespread practice of suspicionless stops’ displays a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.”