Stop-and-Frisk: Federal Judge Rules the NYC Policy Violates Constitutional Rights

stop and friskNEW YORK–A federal judge ruled that the New York City Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which has been criticized as racial profiling, violates individuals’ constitutional rights because it intentionally discriminates based on race — a significant judicial rebuke for what the mayor and police commissioner have defended as a life-saving, crime-fighting tool.

Instead of ordering an end to the practice, however, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin appointed an independent monitor to oversee changes to the policy.

Peter L. Zimroth, a onetime city lawyer and a former chief assistant district attorney, has been appointed as the monitor. In both roles, Zimroth worked closely with the NYPD, Scheindlin said.

The judge accused the police department’s senior officials of violating law “through their deliberate indifference to unconstitutional stops, frisks and searches.”

“They have received both actual and constructive notice since at least 1999 of widespread Fourth Amendment violations occurring as a result of the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices. Despite this notice, they deliberately maintained and even escalated policies and practices that predictably resulted in even more widespread Fourth Amendment violations,” she wrote in a lengthy opinion.

She also cited violations of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“Far too many people in New York City have been deprived of this basic freedom far too often,” she said. “The NYPD’s practice of making stops that lack individualized reasonable suspicion has been …


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