Stop-and-frisk case could lead to monitor
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department asked a federal judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee the New York Police Department if she rules the department's stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin presided at a 10-week civil trial over the New York police practice of stopping people suspected of unlawful activity and frisking those suspected of carrying weapons.
Critics of the policy say it targets minorities and violates their Fourth Amendment rights for protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Scheindlin is expected to issue her ruling in the coming weeks. Her decision could dramatically affect police practices, people living in high-crime areas and some of the city's most visible officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is running to succeed Bloomberg when his third term ends this year.
The lawsuit was filed in 2008 by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of four black men who said they were stopped based on their race.
Justice Department officials, in court papers filed late on Wednesday, said the federal government “takes no position” on the facts of the case, and only seeks the appointment of a monitor if Scheindlin “should find that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices are unlawful.”
Bloomberg said on Thursday that appointing a monitor was “a terrible idea.”
“It just makes no sense whatsoever when lives are on the line to change the rules and hamper the police department from doing their job,” He said at a press conference in Queens. “They comply with the law. We are 100 percent confident in that.”
Bloomberg has consistently defended stop-and-frisk and has rejected suggestions that the NYPD needs independent oversight, just as his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, had before him. Kelly has called stop-and-frisk the cornerstone of successful policing that has driven crime rates to historic lows.
Other major police departments have come under independent oversight in recent years as a result of federal lawsuits, including Seattle and New Orleans.
The Justice Department, in its court filing, defended the idea of independent oversight, saying “reform through a court-ordered process improves public confidence, makes officers' jobs safer and increases the ability of the department to fight crime.”
The debate over stop-and-frisk became a focal point for NYPD critics last May after the New York Civil Liberties Union released statistics showing police stops have risen sharply during Bloomberg's administration — from 160,851 in 2003 to 685,724 in 2011. About half of the 2011 stops resulted in searches.
The analysis also concluded that the policy disproportionately targets minorities and noted that in 2011, NYPD records showed police conducted more stops of black males between the ages of 14 and 24 than the total number of young black males living in New York City. Just 1.8 percent of searches of minority suspects that year resulted in weapons seizures.
Kelly has said the practice saves minority lives. In 2011, 96 percent of shooting victims and 90 percent of homicide victims were minorities.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- VA Phoenix social worker on leave for Halloween costume
- U.S. has urged legal reforms abroad to block Islamic State recruits
- Student dies in traditional Ohio State University lake jump
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas
- Company backs away from pledge to cut drug’s $750-per-pill price
- N.H. prep grad to appeal sex assault verdict
- Ads for Nazi-themed show pulled from NYC subways
- Police investigate flights diverted for suspicious passengers, bomb threats
- Chicago cop charged with murder in killing of black teen
- Obama: No credible intelligence about terror plot against US
- U.S. troops suspended in airstrike on Afghan hospital