After years of objection to the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice, a federal judge has found that constitutional rights of thousands of New Yorkers were violated.

 Judge Shira A. Scheinlin also called for a federal monitor to oversee reforms.

According to the NYT:

In a decision issued on Monday, the judge  ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. Officers often frisked these people, usually young minority men, for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband, like drugs, before letting them go, according to the 195-page decision.

The procedure, which has increased tremendously in the last decade, has been found to disregard the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment.

To fix the constitutional violations, Judge Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan said she intended to designate an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.

The decision to install Mr. Zimroth, a partner in the New York office of Arnold & Porter, LLP, and a former corporation counsel and prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, will leave the department under a degree of judicial control that is certain to shape the policing strategies under the next mayor.

Judge Scheindlin’s decision comes after listening to testimony from a dozen black men and women who were stopped, as well as statistical experts who offered their conclusions about the number of people stopped between 2004 and 2012.

And while it is normal procedure for officers to briefly stop those who are behaving suspiciously, Judge Scheindlin found that the NYPD overstepped that authority.

She found that officers were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop.

She noted that about 88 percent of the stops result in the police letting the person go without an arrest or ticket, a percentage so high, she said, that it suggests there was not a credible suspicion to suspect the person of criminality in the first place.

Wow, this is BIG! We thank Judge Scheindlin and hope that the work to protect our innocent brothers and sisters continues.


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