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Stop-and-frisk: The next steps

Cyril Josh Barker | 8/22/2013, 9:26 a.m. | Updated on 8/22/2013, 9:26 a.m.

In the aftermath of the court ruling that deemed the NYPD’s controversial practice of stop-and-frisk illegal, many are asking, “Now what?”

While celebrations were in order for U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling, which also called for oversight of the NYPD, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are pledging to appeal. However, the process could take so long that the next mayor could stop the appeal.

Reports indicate that the Police Department filed an official notice of appeal on Friday, while Bloomberg called getting rid of stop-and-frisk a “disaster” for the city.

However, in a New Yorker magazine article, Bloomberg admits that if he had a Black son, he would reconsider stop-and-frisk. “If I had a son who was stopped, I might feel differently about it, but nevertheless,” he said.

This past Sunday, Kelly made his way around the political talk show circuit defending stop-and-frisk. He said he understands the sensitivity of the issue to the African-American community based the reactions he observed upon attending various community meetings. However, he said, without stop-and-frisk, crime will go up.

“This case cries out for appeal. The judge has indicted the entire New York City Police Department, 35,000 officers, of racial profiling on the flimsiest of evidence,” said Kelly. “You look at the expert for the plaintiff and what he found. He looked at 4.4 million stops over a 10-year period. He found 6 percent of them were, in his opinion, unjustified. In the trial itself, there were four plaintiffs, there were 12 witnesses, there were 19 stops.”

The ruling remains a talking point for Democratic mayoral candidates, most notably Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn, who have both vowed to end the appeal if elected.

Often considered a loyalist to Bloomberg, Quinn broke away from her usual alignment with the mayor and said that while she would keep Kelly as commissioner, stop-and-frisk needs reform.

The complications of the stop-and-frisk ruling comes just as the NYPD touts its recent seizure of over 250 guns, the largest bust in the city’s history. The weapons came from the Carolinas and were shipped to Brooklyn. The bust resulted in 19 arrests.

Critics say that while the gun bust is a victory for the war on street violence, it does not prove or disprove Kelly and Bloomberg’s belief that stop-and-frisk is a major tool in getting guns off the streets.

“Based on their own data, the amount of guns seized annually through stop-and-frisks between 2003-2011 has remained largely the same, while the total number of stop-and frisks rose from approximately 150,000 to almost 700,000 per year,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams. “I believe that we need to continue to support effective policing practices, such as the successful operation the mayor announced yesterday, and not on wasteful and discriminatory practices, such as the abuse of the stop-and-frisk program.”