By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A federal judge’s landmark decision on the Bloomberg Administration’s controversial stop-and-frisk policing policy is shining a spotlight on the mayoral candidates at a time when the public is just beginning to pay attention to the race for City Hall.
The candidates’ reactions to Judge Shira Scheindlin’s Aug. 12 ruling against the city in the class action lawsuit brought by residents who were subjected to stop-and-frisk by police ran along party lines, for the most part, with Democrats praising the decision and Republicans blasting it.
Of all the mayoral candidates, none was as succinct as Republican underdog George McDonald, who issued a two-sentence statement.”One misguided liberal judge is endangering the safety of all New Yorkers. Appeal, Appeal, Appeal!" he said.
Fellow Republican Joe Lhota, who served as a deputy mayor in the Giuliani Administration, also urged Mayor Michael Bloomberg to appeal Scheindlin’s decision.
“Our Constitution is a living document and I disagree with some of Judge Scheindlin’s conclusions regarding the use of Stop, Question and Frisk and the Fourth Amendment. I urge the mayor to appeal the decision to delay implementation of a federal monitor. The NYPD is one of the most closely scrutinized law enforcement agencies in the country with oversight from New York City’s five district attorneys, two U.S. attorneys, the New York State Attorney General and the City Council. The last thing we need is another layer of outside bureaucracy dictating our policing,” Lhota said.
Democratic front-runner Christine Quinn said the decision proved that she and her fellow City Council members were right to vote to install an inspector general to oversee the NYPD.
“Today’s court ruling affirms what we have known for some time, too many young men of color are being stopped in the streets of New York in an unconstitutional manner and that must stop. At the height of this program, some 700,000 New Yorkers have been stopped with the overwhelming number resulting in no arrest or seizing of contraband, that’s why the city needs —and I passed —and inspector general for the NYPD. The NYPD Inspector General will help review and provide guidance to ensure that stop and frisk is done in a constitutionally sound manner that focuses on the quality of the stops, not the quantity,” Quinn stated.
Former city comptroller Bill Thompson vowed that if he’s elected mayor, he would work with the federal monitor to ensure that the police fight crime in a manner that is fair to the rights of New Yorkers. He praised the lawsuit’s plaintiffs. "I want them - and all New Yorkers - to know that I will protect our streets and protect the rights of our people. I will uphold the law and work with the federal monitor to make sure New Yorkers never have to choose between their constitutional rights and their safety. I will ensure the court's decision fulfills its objective - a New York where everyone is protected by the law," he said.
Anthony Weiner called for changes in the stop and frisk policy. "This decision sadly confirms what was profoundly obvious. When the police stop tens of thousands of citizens who have done nothing wrong - the overwhelming number being young men of color - basic civil rights are being violated,” he said.
“The policy of using stop and frisk as a deterrent rather than a tool for the pursuit of actual criminals has to change,” Weiner added.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio used the judge’s decision to take a swipe at Quinn: "The courts have just affirmed facts that too many New Yorkers know to be true: under the Bloomberg Administration, with the acquiescence of Speaker Quinn, millions of innocent New Yorkers — overwhelmingly young men of color — have been illegally stopped,” he said.
“The overuse and misuse of stop-and-frisk hasn't made New York a safer city, it has only served to drive police and community further apart,” de Blasio added.
Comptroller John Liu is the only mayoral candidate who called for the abolishment of stop-and-frisk. "The judge’s call for reforms must be heeded, and -- longer term -- the tactic should be abolished. It’s time to put an end to stop and frisk once and for all," he stated.
Republican John Catsimatidis expressed disappointment with the decision. "Stop and Frisk is an example of proactive police work that stops crime and keeps guns off the streets; dropping crime rates have proven that. I am sure this decision will be appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, as it should be,” he said.
"The New York City Police Department is the best in the world, their innovative crime fighting tactics are a model for law enforcement worldwide. Today's decision should not be viewed as an indictment of their tactics. Their job is to keep New Yorkers safe and I firmly believe Stop and Frisk has done just that," he said.
Sal Albanese said the judge’s decision proves that stop and frisk, while not a bad policy, was abused by police: "The courts upheld what any reasonable New Yorker has known since day one: Stop and frisk is a legal police tool that keeps our city safe when it is used properly. There was never any doubt that the city was casting too wide of a net and focusing on quantity rather than quality when numbers peaked in 2011. Since then, the NYPD has moved in the right direction by training officers better and reducing unnecessary stops. This ruling will accelerate that process,” he said.