Frisk no more ! (Court finds stop-and-frisk unconstitutional)

Stephon Johnson | 8/15/2013, 9:16 a.m. | Updated on 8/15/2013, 9:16 a.m.
Stop and Frisk

Former police officer and current Brooklyn borough presidential candidate state Sen. Eric Adams threw his two cents in as well. “I am proud to have been a part of the lawsuit that brought about this necessary ruling—a ruling that should lead to fairer treatment of all New Yorkers,” he said. “I call on the NYPD and the Bloomberg administration to immediately comply with the judge’s orders, commit itself to educating officers to better protect the civil rights of the people they serve and begin working with the communities where stop-and-frisk was most abused so that the relationship between citizens and the police can be repaired.”

“Today’s federal ruling against stop-and-frisk is vindication for the hundreds of thousands of mostly African-American and Latino New Yorkers who for years have endured the humiliation of being arrested by the police based on unfounded and cryptic reasoning,” said 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa.

“Today’s ruling by Judge Scheindlin declaring that police have overstepped their authority highlights the enormous flaws in the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactic, which has served to undermine trust between communities and law enforcement,” said New York City mayoral candidate City Comptroller John Liu.

Bloomberg and Kelly took the federal court to task during a news conference at City Hall, which took place at the same time CCR’s did. Together, they denounced the ruling, claiming that stop-and-frisk took guns off the street and saved lives.

“Throughout the trial that just concluded, the judge made it clear she was not at all interested in the crime reductions here or how we achieved them,” said Bloomberg. “In fact, nowhere in her 195-page decision does she mention the historic cuts in crime or the number of lives that have been saved. She ignored the real-world realities of crime, the fact that stops match up with crime statistics and the fact that our police officers on patrol—the majority of whom are Black, Hispanic or members of other ethnic or racial minorities–make an average about less than one stop a week.”

“Police stops are just one component of multiple efforts by the department that have saved lives and driven the murder rate to record lows,” added Kelly. “In the first 11 years of Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, there were 7,363 fewer murders in New York City compared to the 11 years prior to the mayor taking office. And if history is any guide, those lives saved were overwhelmingly the lives of young men of color. Now, this didn’t happen by accident, it was a result of proactive policing supported by this mayor. There’s little question that police stops in this case continue to be deeply misunderstood.”

But Bloomberg and Kelly weren’t the only ones upset with the ruling. Republican mayoral candidate and former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota felt that the NYPD already had too much oversight and the change in how stop-and-frisk is practiced will derail the fight on crime.

“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,” said Lhota in an emailed statement. “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.”

Despite Bloomberg’s plan to appeal and some of the blowback, the majority of the reaction to stop-and frisk—as it’s currently practiced—being labeled unconstitutional was met with approval. During the news conference at CCR, New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams left Bloomberg and company with a remark that used their own measuring tools against them.

“Today, the Bloomberg administration and the NYPD learned a very old lesson that most of us learn in our formative years—the end rarely justifies the means,” said Williams. “Their own COMPSTAT statistics bear out that the current implementation of stop, question and frisk did little to get guns off the street and prevent gun violence.”