Associated Press: The New York Police Department deliberately violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers with its contentious stop-and-frisk policy, and an independent monitor is needed to oversee major changes, a federal judge ruled Monday in a stinging rebuke for what the mayor and police commissioner have defended as a life-saving, crime-fighting tool.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said she was not putting an end to the policy, but rather was reforming it. She did not give many specifics on how that would work but instead named an independent monitor who would develop reforms to policies, training, supervision, monitoring and discipline. She also ordered that officers test out body-worn cameras in the police precinct where most stops occurred.
For years, police brass had been warned that officers were violating rights, but they nevertheless maintained and escalated “policies and practices that predictably resulted in even more widespread Fourth Amendment violations,” Scheindlin wrote in a lengthy opinion. She also cited violations of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Four men sued the department in 2004, saying they were unfairly targeted because of they were minorities. Scheindlin issued her ruling after a 10-week bench trial, which included testimony from NYPD brass and a dozen people – 11 men and one woman – who said they were wrongly stopped because of their race.
She found that nine of the 19 stops discussed at the trial were unconstitutional, and an additional five stops included wrongful frisking.
Stop and frisk is a constitutional police tactic, but Scheindlin concluded that the plaintiffs had “readily established that the NYPD implements its policies regarding stop and frisk in a manner that intentionally discriminates based on race.”