A federal judge’s appointment of lawyer Peter Zimroth as a monitor to the New York Police Department over stop-and-frisk policies makes New York City just one of many around the U.S. subject to court oversight, says the New York Times. In Seattle, a monitor was chosen to address the incidence of discriminatory and baseless street stops of — the core complaint in the New York case — as well as problems with excessive force, particularly the use of batons and flashlights, often against people with mental illness. Typically, judges rely on court-appointed officials to ensure that the police are following court-ordered changes.
“In some cases, the monitors will write the policies; in other cases they say to the police department, 'You write the policies and I'll review it,' ” said Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University, an expert witness for plaintiffs in the New York case. In rare circumstances, judges have permitted monitors to take a larger degree of operational control over a police department. In Oakland, CA, where the Police Department submitted to federal court oversight a decade ago, a dissatisfied judge named a compliance director, in addition to a monitor, and granted him broad authority to, in effect, run the department.