NYPD’s controversial Stop & Frisk policy will likely come to an end as a U.S. district judge granted class action status to a 2008 lawsuit accusing the NYPD of discriminating against blacks and Hispanics with its stop-and-frisk policies aimed at reducing crime.
Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in a written statement that there was "overwhelming evidence" that the stop-and-frisk program has led to thousands of unlawful stops.
Scheindlin also noted that the vast majority of New Yorkers who were unlawfully stopped will never file a lawsuit in response, and she said class-action status was created for just these kinds of court cases.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit alleged that the police department purposefully engaged in a widespread practice of concentrating its stop-and-frisk activity on black and Hispanic neighborhoods based on their racial composition, rather than legitimate non-racial factors.
The lawsuit said officers are pressured to meet quotas as part of the program and they are punished if they do not.
Scheindlin said it was "disturbing" that the city responded to the lawsuit by saying a court order to stop the practice would amount to "judicial intrusion," and that no injunction could guarantee that suspicion-less stops would never occur or would only occur in a certain percentage of encounters.
"First, suspicion less stops should never occur...cavalier attitude towards the prospect of a `widespread practice of suspicionless stops' displays a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers' most fundamental constitutional rights."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly declined to comment.
The city law office said in a statement:
"We respectfully disagree with the decision and are reviewing our legal options."
Darius Charney, who argued the case on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a non-profit legal organization, said:
"We're very pleased. We think she clearly got everything right on the law."
The Police Department said it made 601,055 street stops of potential suspects last year, with about 10 percent of the stops resulting in arrests. In 2009, there were 575,304 stops.
The NYPD has engaged in the practice for years. In fact, looking at the numbers you can see where you are most likely to get stopped and frisked and by which precinct.