A federal judge has declared a class action the second of three major cases alleging the New York City Police Department engages in an unconstitutional pattern of stopping and frisking people without a reasonable suspicion that they are engaged in criminal activity, reports the New York Law Journal. Judge Shira Scheindlin certified Ligon v. City of New York, a case where black and Latino citizens in the Bronx allege police have been illegally stopping and frisking them as they enter and exit buildings that take part in a police crime-fighting program.
Formerly known as Operation Clean Halls, the Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP) allows police patrols of private buildings with the consent of the owner or landlord. Some 5,000 buildings participate in the program and the police maintain it is an effective crime-fighting tool. The broader class action, Floyd v. City of New York, alleges the police department has a “top-down,” city-wide policy of stopping and frisking people without suspicion—a practice that plaintiffs allege disproportionately targets young black and Latino men. The cases may turn on an interpretation of the 1968 Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio, which held that the Fourth Amendment is not violated when a police officer stops and frisks a person without probable cause to make an arrest—as long as the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. The Floyd case is scheduled for trial next month.