Monday, August 12, 2013

Last Call For Stop And Frisk

This morning a federal judge in New York dropped a brutal ruling against the NYPD's awful "Stop and Frisk" program, stating it violates a number of civil rights, and ordered the program to be monitored by an outside party.

In a decision issued on Monday, the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. Officers often frisked these people, usually young minority men, for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband, like drugs, before letting them go, according to the 195-page decision.

These stop-and-frisk episodes, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment.

To fix the constitutional violations, Judge Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan said she intended to designate an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.

The decision to install Mr. Zimroth, a partner in the New York office of Arnold & Porter, LLP, and a former corporation counsel and prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, will leave the department under a degree of judicial control that is certain to shape the policing strategies under the next mayor.

The ruling, in Floyd v. City of New York, follows a two-month nonjury trial earlier this year over the department’s stop-and-frisk practices. 

This is pretty huge, frankly.  And it should, in a perfect world, bring an end to Stop and Frisk for good in NYC, because there's no way the program doesn't violate the 4th and 14th Amendments.  We'll see what the NYPD does in response, but anything other than "end the program" is just going to make it worse for everybody.

Let's put this one down, guys.

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