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Appeals process begins in stop-and-frisk, related cases

Stop-and-frisk. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Associated Press

New York City officials have taken the first step in appealing a federal judge's ruling imposing reforms on the police department's stop-and-frisk strategy after finding that the policy intentionally singled out minorities.

The city Law Department filed a notice of appeal Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

"We have moved ahead with our formal filings," said Michael A. Cardozo, head of the city Law Department. "The mayor, the police commissioner and the city vowed to press forward immediately with an appeal — and we have done so. The safety of all New Yorkers is at stake." City lawyers now have about three months to file the formal brief.

Officers have made about 5 million stops in the past decade under the program, mostly of black and Hispanic men. About half are frisked, while only about 10 percent end in arrest. A weapon is recovered a fraction of the time. 

A class-action lawsuit argued that the department was wrongly targeting minorities and that officers were pressured to make stops by their superiors.

Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin agreed in a lengthy opinion issued Monday, finding that police made street stops based on race. She ordered changes to officer training, discipline and supervision and appointed an outside monitor to supervise and come up with specifics on how the changes will work. She made specific changes to the form that the officers fill out when recording a stop, and ordered a yearlong pilot program of body-worn cameras in the one precinct in each borough where the most stops occur.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called ruling unfair and warned that it will damage the NYPD's successes in fighting violent crime.

The three front-runners for Bloomberg’s mayoral seat have denounced the way in which stop-and-frisk proceeded during Bloomberg’s administration but neither are willing to eliminate the policy all together.  

“The only way to end the abuse of stop-and-frisk in New York City is with real reform,” said Brooklyn resident and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. A spokesperson told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that while de Blasio would not appeal Scheindlin’s decision in the stop-and-frisk case, he would permit stop-and-frisk to continue “within careful constitutional guidelines, monitored by an NYPD Inspector General and curtailed by a strong legal ban on racial profiling.”  

Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, a fellow mayoral candidate, said that as mayor he would “drop the appeal to the federal ruling. Period.”  Thompson continued that Bloomberg and NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s “misuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk is why we have a federal monitor in the first place.”   Stop-and-frisk can, however, be a useful tool if used correctly, a spokesperson for Thompson’s campaign told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has found that stop-and-frisk has been implemented in a "completely unconstitutional" manner, but has not stated that the policy should be discontinued.

Judge Scheindlin also has ordered changes to an NYPD patrol program inside private buildings. Police patrol thousands of private residential buildings in New York under a program known as Clean Halls, which landlords can join on a voluntary basis.

The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Bronx residents who said they were being wrongly stopped in their own buildings under the program. Scheindlin has ordered a more formal written policy on circumstances that allow the stops within these buildings. She also said the NYPD must re-train officers on ways to implement the policy. 

The city has appealed this ruling as well.

August 19, 2013 - 10:30am


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