A federal judge has ruled that the New York City Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy is a “form of racial profiling” and that it is unconstitutional. However, Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling did not end the practice. She instead appointed an independent monitor to oversee changes to it.
In her opinion, Scheindlin said the policy violates the Fourth Amendment because it leads to unreasonable search-and-seizures, which the department had been warned about since at least 1999. “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,” she wrote.
Schneindlin wrote that minorities, mainly African Americans and Hispanics, were targeted at a higher rate than the crime rates for which the groups are responsible. She argued that it is “impermissible to subject all members of a racially defined group to heightened police enforcement because some members of that group are criminals.”
She appointed a former city lawyer and assistant district attorney who worked with the NYPD to oversee potential reforms.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD chief of police Ray Kelly have cited the policy as a major factor in lowering New York’s crime rates.