Federal Judge Rules Stop And Frisk Unconstitutional: ‘This Is A Form Of Racial Profiling’

In the broadest legal decision on the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk program yet, a federal judge ruled the program is unconstitutional and violates the Fourth Amendment and 14th Amendment.

Update: To say that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not pleased with today's ruling would be an understatement. Bloomberg blasted the ruling and Judge Scheindlin, suggesting she was biased against the NYPD and vowing to appeal.

"We believed we weren't getting a fair trial," and the ruling confirmed that belief, the mayor said.

"She ignored the real-world realities of crime," and showed "a disturbing disregard for our police officers," he said, adding noting that stop-and-frisk has taken 8,000 guns off the street in the past 10 years.

"People have a right to walk down the street" without getting stopped by cops, but "people also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged," the mayor said.

He said he plans on appealing the ruling as soon as possible, and asking for a stay of the ruling while the appeal goes forward.

“If this decision were to stand, it would make the city, in fact the whole country, a more dangerous place," Bloomberg said.

A visibly angry Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said what he found “most disturbing and offensive in this decision is the notion the NYPD engages in racial profiling. That is recklessly untrue," he said. “Race is never a reason to make a stop.”

A transcript of Bloomberg's remarks available here.

A transcript of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's remarks available here.
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The New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers through its controversial stop-and-frisk policy, a judge ruled today. The NYPD’s practice of stopping and searching people not suspected of any crime—usually young minority men—has skyrocketed in the last decade. The judge ruled that the practice violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, as well as the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. But the NYPD won’t have to end stop-and-frisk. Rather, the judge said the practice could continue under the oversight of an outside lawyer, who will make sure the department obeys the Constitution.

NBC News:

'Scheindlin found that the police had used the tactic 4.4 million times between 2004 and 2012, and that 80 percent of the stops were of blacks and Hispanics.

“The City’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” the judge wrote. “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting ‘the right people’ is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.”'

That means, among other things, “no person may be stopped because he matches a vague or generalized description — such as male black 18 to 24 — without further detail," the judge wrote.

City officials did not immediately comment on the ruling, or on whether they planned to appeal. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg scheduled a news conference at 1 p.m. to discuss the decision.

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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