New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, vowed this afternoon to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the controversial “stop-and-frisk” tactic used by the New York Police Department is unconstitutional.
The opinion, issued by Judge Shira Scheindlin of U.S. Southern District Court in Manhattan, is a major blow for one of the signature crime-fighting policies of Bloomberg’s and Kelly’s tenure. In her opinion, Scheindlin said “Stop-and-Frisk,” which is used to search individuals for drug paraphernalia and guns, violated the constitutional rights of thousands of New Yorkers.
At a press conference this afternoon Bloomberg and Kelly decried Scheindlin’s decision. Bloomberg noted that New York City’s homicide rate has dropped by about 50 percent during his 12-year tenure and argued that the decision “ignored the realities of crime, like the fact that our police officers on patrol make an avg of less than one stop a week.”
“The judge conveyed a disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our officers, who form the most diverse police dept in the U.S.,” Bloomberg said.
Scheindlin ruled that “stop-and-frisk” violates the Fourth and 14th Amendments by subjecting people to searches without evidence or reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing and stop and frisk and “perpetuates the stubborn racial disparities in our criminal justice.”
Kelly said Scheindlin’s findings on racial profiling are “disturbing and highly offensive.”
“This is simply, recklessly untrue,” he said.
The opinion does not call for an end to stop-and-frisk practices, Scheindlin noted, but instead offered a number of remedies to offset the effects in communities. The NYPD should revise their policies and training modules relating to stop-and-frisk and racial profiling and race may only be considered where the stop is based on a specific and reliable suspect description.Police Officers must also revise the paperwork used for recording the stops, recording the narrative portion in activity logs creating a remedial process that increases community input.
The judge also ordered the NYPD to institute a pilot project in which body worn cameras will be worn for a one-year period by officers on patrol in one precinct per the precinct with the highest number of stops during 2012.
Scheindlin said she intends to designate Peter L. Zimroth, a former corporation counsel and prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office — and currently a partner in the lawfirm Arnold & Porter, LLP, and criminal law professor at New York University to monitor the NYPD.
Read Scheindlin’s opinion below and stop back throughout the day for updates.