“Far too many people in New York City have been deprived of this basic freedom far too often.”… “The NYPD’s practice of making stops that lack individualized reasonable suspicion has been so pervasive and persistent as to become not only a part of the NYPD’s standard operating procedure, but a fact of daily life in some New York City neighborhoods.” So said Judge Shira A. Scheindlin in a ruling that states New York’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” law is unconstitutional.
In New York, police officers have been stopping innocent people in the street for years, and the judge has ruled that the materials reveal the stops are most often without any real reason to suspect those people — most of whom are African-American or Hispanic — of any wrongdoing.
As noted on this site, thanks to the perseverance of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the City of New York must also clear the records of thousands of innocent people who were stopped under the program.
Under Mayor Bloomberg the NY Police Department (NYPD) has conducted more stop-and-frisk encounters than the combined populations of Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh. Approximately 88%, or 4.4 million, of the stops were of innocent people, the majority of whom are people of colour. The stops often did not result in either a ticket or an arrest but records were kept of innocent people.
As part of the judge’s examination, a determination was made that there are also 14th Amendment — the amendment which provides for due process and equal protection under the law — violations. To fix the violations the judge will designate independent counsel, an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.
Finally…a step in the right direction. A record of 88% unsuccessful and unwarranted stops should be considered a failing grade.