A federal judge’s conclusion that New York City police officers sometimes violate the constitution when they stop and frisk people has made officers “passive and scared” to use the crime-fighting tactic, lawyers warned a federal appeals panel yesterday as they asked that the ruling be suspended while it is appealed, the Associated Press reports. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit did not immediately rule in a case that may be affected by next week’s mayoral election. Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio, leading in polls, has sharply criticized and promised to reform the police department’s stop-and-frisk technique, saying it unfairly targets minorities.
Attorney Celeste Koeleveld, arguing for the city, said officers are “hesitant, unfortunately” to use the tactic anymore. Attorney Courtney Saleski, arguing for the Sergeants Benevolent Association, noted that stop and frisks were down 50 percent in the first six months of this year compared with a year earlier. She said officers were afraid stops violate the constitution. “That means constitutional stops are being chilled and that’s not good for the safety of the community,” she said. Plaintiffs’ attorney Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights noted that the drop in stop and frisks came even before the judge ruled and said it was accompanied by a drop in murders and other crimes.