A woman holds a sign during a rally against the city's "stop and frisk" searches in lower Manhattan near federal court on March 18, 2013.(Photo: Allison Joyce, Getty Images)
By Melanie Eversley and John Bacon, USA TODAY
The New York Police Department's controversial "stop-question-frisk"
policy aimed at curbing crime intentionally discriminates based on
race, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
held a press conference hours later blasting the decision and said the
city will appeal the ruling of Judge Shira Scheindlin, who appointed
Peter Zimroth as an independent monitor to overhaul the policy.
stopped short of throwing out stop-question-frisk, also known as
stop-and-frisk, but charged Zimroth with developing reforms to police
policies, training, supervision, monitoring and discipline. She also
ordered that officers test out body-worn cameras in the police precinct
where most stops occurred.
The judge accused the
police department's senior officials of violating law "through their
deliberate indifference to unconstitutional stops, frisks and searches."
have received both actual and constructive notice since at least 1999
of widespread Fourth Amendment violations occurring as a result of the
NYPD's stop and frisk practices. Despite this notice, they deliberately
maintained and even escalated policies and practices that predictably
resulted in even more widespread Fourth Amendment violations," she wrote
in a 195-page opinion.
The policy that gives law
enforcement wide-ranging latitude to stop people on the street deemed
suspicious has drawn attention to New York City from across the country.
At the crux of the debate is whether the policy is necessary to curb
crime, or whether it unfairly targets minorities. Studies have shown a
majority of those stopped are minority men and that a majority of the
police stops result in no arrests.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, energetic supporters of the policy,
said Monday they were disappointed but not surprised with the ruling.
They said Scheindin refused to listen to city arguments that stops were
made based on where crimes took place, not based on racial makeups of
City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo
said the city would ask the appeals court to keep the ruling from going
into effect until the appeal is decided.
Bloomberg said the murder rate has been halved in the last 12 years; Kelly added that more than 8,000 guns have been seized.
police officers follow the law and follow the crime," Bloomberg said.
"They don't worry if their work doesn't match up to a census chart."
echoed Bloomberg's position, noting that more than 90% of shootings
involved black or Hispanic victims in low-income neighborhoods.
men had sued the city, saying they were unfairly targeted because of
their race. There have been about 5 million stops during the past
decade, mostly black and Hispanic men. Scheindlin issued her ruling
after a 10-week bench trial for the class-action lawsuit, which included
testimony from top NYPD brass and a dozen people - 11 men and one woman
- who said they were wrongly stopped because of their race.
Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal
Justice, has studied and written about stop-and-frisk and notes one
young man in New York City in his early 20s has been stopped 93 times,
and there are middle school students who have been stopped several times
in one day. This is a problem if you take 600,000 stops and only 10%
result in arrests, Jones-Brown said.
"When you have
500,000 stops that are fruitless ... it certainly indicates that
whatever police are doing is unwarranted," she said. "At some ponit,m
you've got to say you've got to do something different."
debate also has been playing out in Philadelphia, though a little
differently. Civil rights lawyers there are challenging the policy, but
it is supported by the city's mayor and district attorney, who are
District Attorney Seth Williams maintains that
in Philadelphia, the majority of violent crime victims are minority men
and that stop-and-frisk is necessary to reverse that trend. The city
had 334 homicides last year and 85% were committed with hand guns, he
"We have to do all that we can," Williams said.
"We have to find the best practices, new practices, old practices. We
have to do all that we can to reduce the gun violence in Philadelphia."
New York City, 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."