New York’s ‘stop-and-frisk’ policing violates Constitution, judge says


NYPD officers in Times Square on July 20, 2012 in New York City.


Mario Tama

NEW YORK – A federal judge has ruled that the New York Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy, as currently practiced, violates citizens’ constitutional rights.

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The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, announced she would fix the problem by appointing an outside monitor to make sure the NYPD complies with the US Constitution.

The judge said police using the tactic, which has officers stop people in the street they suspect of breaking the law and frisk them if they suspect they are carrying weapons or drugs, violated the Fourth Amendment and the 14th Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

While police officers testified in front of Scheindlin that they only stopped people they suspected of criminal behavior, she observed that police let about 88 percent of the people they stopped walk without an arrest or ticket, indicating that their behavior was not truly suspicious.

In the 5 million stop-and-frisks New York police have conducted over the past decade, more than 80 percent of the people stopped have been black or Latino, WNYC reported. In her opinion, Scheindlin described this as a policy of “indirect racial profiling.”

"No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life," Scheindlin wrote in her opinion.