NYC Stop-and-Frisk Trial Underway; Could Lead to Reforms, Not a Ban


Many of tens of thousands of New Yorkers stopped, questioned, and sometimes frisked by police in the past decade were wrongly targeted because of their race, lawyers for four men who claim they were illegally stopped said in court yesterday, the Associated Press reports. New York Police Department lawyers countered that officers must go where the crime is – and that is overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods. A civil trial in federal court expected to last a month or more will examine the police tactic that has become a city flashpoint, with mass demonstrations, City Council hearings, and mayoral candidates calling for change. The lawsuit, now a class-action, seeks a court-appointed monitor to oversee changes to how the police make stops. Police have made five million stops in the past decade, mostly of black and Hispanic men. Officers and criminologists who have studied the statistics on street stops are also slated to testify, and lawyers plan to play hours of audio tapes by officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who was hauled off to a psych ward against his will after he said he refused to fill illegal quotas. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin is not being asked to ban the tactic, since it has been found to be legal. She does have the power to order reforms.

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