NYC Judge Lifts Ban on “Stop and Frisk”

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NYPD officer
NYPD officer
NYPD officer
Last Tuesday, a Manhattan judge temporarily lifted her own ban on stop-and-frisk, allowing the NYPD to resume applying some of its techniques in the 3000 Bronx buildings participating in the program.

Previously, on January 8, Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered an immediate termination to trespass stops outside of the Bronx “Clean Halls” buildings. That is, unless the officer had enough reason to suspect a violation had taken place.

Scheindlin calledany trespass stops without reasonable suspicion to be “unconstitutional” because “there is more than enough proof that a large number of people have been improperly stopped as a result of NYPD practices. These facts warrant an injunction.”

However, the city appealed Scheindlin’s order, citing that it would be too expensive to implement at the moment, especially since it’s rooted in a rather complex area of law. Furthermore, city lawyers said the immediate halt to some “Clean Halls” trespass stops would burden the NYPD, requiring a form of notification and or training of countless numbers of NYPD officers and their administrators.

The judge agreed with city lawyers and lifted the ban Tuesday. She wrote that forcing the NYPD to retain its officers “may impose significant burdens on the NYPD. Any unnecessary administrative costs imposed on the NYPD will be in some sense irreversible, the risk of irreparable harm weights in favor of lifting the ban.”

History of stop-and-frisk

The program first made media headways last summer. On June 17, 2012, thousands of people marched in opposition to stop-and-frisk. Additionally, protesters unleashed several videos of police stopping minorities, portraying the practice as nothing short of “racial profiling.” Some NYPD officers have also expressed opposition to the program, citing that it promotes fellow officers to execute “too much power,” creating unnecessary tensions between them and their subjects.

In 2011 alone, stop-and-frisk was implemented on 684,330 people by the NYPD, which is up 600 percent since 2002. That same year, 87 percent of those stopped were of African American or Latino descent, and only 12 percent of were found actually violating the law.

Future of the program

Next month, a trial is set to decide the fate of a 2008 lawsuit, which is more broadly challenging the city’s stop-and-frisk procedures. The lawsuit aims to dispute whether minorities are stopped at an “unconstitutionally disproportionate rate”, and if so, whether there exists a failure to “monitor, supervise, and discipline officers” who fail to meet the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk reporting guidelines.

“Allowing a longstanding unconstitutional practice to persist for a few months while the parties present arguments regarding the appropriate scope of a remedy is quite distinct from allowing such a practice to persist until the completion of trial,” the judge wrote Tuesday.

Scheindlin denied a request by the city to put off the March trial to a later date.

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