In New York, US District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) “stop-and-frisk” method is unconstitutional. Judge Scheindlin said that the police “adopted a policy of ‘indirect racial profiling’… resulting in the disproportionate discriminatory stopping of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics,” Reuters reports.
“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” she stated in her opinion.
Stop-and-frisk allows New York police to stop anyone that they suspect of having the intention to commit a crime, without cause. Many feel that the practice is just a form of racial profiling, targeting African-American and Hispanic citizens.
Judge Scheindlin said that the city “turned a blind eye” to the results their stop-and-frisk policy was producing.
Last year, a New York analysis of crime data found that “the skyrocketing numbers of NYPD stop-and-frisks had ‘little impact’” on gun violence or the number of people shot in New York City. Between 2009 and 2011, the number of people shot in New York increased, even as the stop-and-frisk tactic became more prevalent.
NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has defended the controversial police method, even saying that the NYPD doesn’t stop minorities enough. Police Chief Ray Kelly has also defended the practice. Bloomberg argues that stop-and-frisk “has been an essential part of the NYPD’s work.”
After the decision was issued on Monday, Bloomberg said that the city would appeal the ruling, and accused Scheindlin of not giving the city “a fair trial,” the New York Times reports.
Scheindlin found that police consistently stopped innocent people without any objective reason to suspect them of criminal activity.
According to her decision, the increasingly-used method violates both Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable search and seizure, and ensure equal protection for all citizens, respectively.
The decision requires the NYPD to “reform practices and policies related to stop and frisk to conform with the requirements of the United States Constitution.”
The decision will not put a stop to the controversial practice, but suggests changes “to ensure that the practice is carried out in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers…”
In May 2012, Clayton Baltzer, a 19-year-old Seminary student on a first-time visit to New York City, was stopped, searched, arrested, and charged with three misdemeanors after police noticed a pocket knife hanging out of his pocket.
After removing the young man from his church group, police searched his belongings and found a second knife in his backpack. Baltzer explained to police that the knives were used to cut wood at the bible camp near his college where he volunteered. Police then searched his classmates before handcuffing and arresting Baltzer.
In the most recent case of Floyd v. City of New York, which lasted for nine weeks, lead plaintiff David Floyd, a medical student, was stopped once by police while walking home, and again, a year later, while helping a locked-out neighbor use a spare key to enter the apartment.
During testimony, Floyd described his experience, saying that he felt “frustrated, humiliated – because it was on my block where I live, and I wasn’t doing anything.” The second time Floyd was patted down and searched occurred within his own apartment building.
“I felt that I was being told I shouldn’t leave my home,” he told the Court.