As you’ve probably already heard, federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled the NYPD’s implementation of stop and frisk tactics in minority communities unconstitutional this morning in Floyd vs. the City of New York.
While she did not order an end to the practice, she did order lawyer Peter L. Zimroth to oversee continued implementation of the policy, as well as a pilot program in which police officers will wear cameras in order to better document stops. In response to the judge’s appointment of Zimroth, District 45 Councilmember and Community Safety Act supporter Jumaane Williams said:
There may be some who will point to this ruling and say the appointment of a federal monitor negates the need for the Community Safety Act. I couldn’t disagree more strongly. This decision overwhelmingly demonstrates that our City needs to step forward and effectively deal with this issue on our own.
A federal monitor, which I welcome to the conversation, is simply a temporary fix to a systemic problem. I can think of no stronger message we can send to the federal courts than taking the necessary steps to insure long-term safeguards such as the legislation that the City Council stands ready to implement.
In a nearly 200-page decision, Judge Scheindlin said the practice violates the Fourth Amendment as well as parts of the 14th, and condemned city officials for blatantly ignoring evidence that stops were racially motivated.
“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” she wrote in the document, echoing the sentiment of Kasiem Walters, the local teenager recently featured in the Where I am Going video series by Communities for Police Reform.
Judge Scheindlin said that the average percentage of stops not resulting in arrests or tickets is likely a result of police not having a credible reason to suspect criminality at all. Since the 70th Precinct was shown earlier this summer to have had the highest number of stops without arrests or summonses in NYC, it will be interesting to see how today’s ruling affects our local force. Will they be wearing cameras soon? Will stops decrease dramatically? Is an influx of lawsuits on the way?
Finally, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly held a press conference this afternoon and say they are planning to appeal Judge Scheindlin’s decision. Bloomberg reiterated that while people have the right not to be harassed by the police, they also have the right not to be mugged or killed. This is an idea that has been noted and massaged by numerous mayoral candidates, too.
So, do you think Bloomberg is onto something? And based on candidates’ feelings towards stop and frisk, who are you most likely to vote for in the upcoming election?