New York City's accelerating use of police stop-and-frisk tactics has been challenged, with rulings by federal and state courts casting judges as the most potent critics of the practice, says the New York Times. That raises sharp questions about whether the city has sidestepped the Constitution in the drive to keep crime rates low. Experts say the city eventually must redefine its stop-and-frisk policy, and that the changes — whether voluntary or forced — will fundamentally alter how the police interact with young minority men on the streets.
Some legal experts say the police could be pushed into reducing the numbers of street stops of New Yorkers by hundreds of thousands a year, and that the proportion of stop-and-frisk subjects who are black and Latino would be sharply cut. A settlement last year of a class-action case over stop-and-frisk policies in Philadelphia laid out a model that, if followed in New York, could call for the courts to supervise an imposed system of police monitoring and accountability. Law Prof. Randolph McLaughlin of Pace University said the judicial attention was a product of the numbers: More than 80 percent of those stopped are black or Latino, and last year there were 686,000 stops, with this year's numbers heading higher. “People are starting to wonder: 'What's really going on here? Is this a racial policy?' And judges read the newspaper too,” he said.