Could this be the first step to eliminating “stop and frisk?”

On Tuesday morning, a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge ruled that the New York Police Department’s “Clean Halls Program” violated the constitutional rights of New York City residents. According to Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, for years the NYPD should have known (or already knew) that its officers had routinely violated constitutional rights through the Clean Halls. Scheindlin said that the NYPD failed to properly train officers about when it was legal to make trespass stops.

Tuesday’s rulings comes as part of a class-action lawsuit filed last March by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), The Bronx Defenders, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm of Shearman & Sterling LLP, which challenged the city’s enforcement of “Clean Halls,” which itself is a part of the department’s “stop and frisk” program.

“The Latino and African-American communities have something to cheer about today as Judge Shira Scheindlin recognized what our communities have long known: The NYPD routinely stops people of color without any reasonable basis, as we have demonstrated they do in front of Clean Halls buildings,” said Juan Cartagena, president of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, in a state,emt. “We now begin the process of ending these unlawful practices so that all New Yorkers, regardless of their color, may feel free to walk the streets of their city without the constant fear of being stopped without cause.”

Scheindlin also ordered that the NYPD to cease its trespass stops outside of Clean Halls buildings immediately and outlined training remedies that she would want the department to enforce after another court hearing in two months.

But the NYPD has already come out in defense of Clean Halls. In an email sent to the AmNews, an NYPD spokesperson wanted to make clear that this is “not a stop and frisk ruling” and then provided a statement from Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“Some take for granted the safety provided by doormen who routinely challenge visitors to their apartment buildings,” said Kelly. “Through ‘Clean Halls,’ the police have worked to provide a modicum of safety for less prosperous tenants. Their landlords explicitly requested this extra level of protection. The NYPD is fully committed to doing so in a manner that respects the constitutional rights of residents and visitors. Today’s decision unnecessarily interferes with the Department’s efforts to use all of the crime fighting tools necessary to keep Clean Halls buildings safe and secure.”

In the same email, the spokesperson listed three arrests between October 2012 to December of 2012 that were a results of tactics used in the Clean Halls Program.

Joo-Hyun Kang, from the organization Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), said that this ruling should be a wake-up call to commissioner Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Today’s ruling confirms what New Yorkers across this city have repeatedly been expressing: Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly’s continued defense of discriminatory NYPD practices has shown an unacceptable disregard for the civil rights of New Yorkers. It is unfortunate that our communities are forced to depend on the courts for accountability. This is just another example of why we need serious systemic reforms and the City Council should pass the Community Safety Act.”

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman expressed satisfaction with the results.

“Today’s decision is a major step toward dismantling the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk regime,” said Lieberman in a statement. “Operation Clean Halls has placed New Yorkers, mostly black and Latino, under siege in their own homes in thousands of apartment buildings. This aggressive assault on people’s constitutional rights must be stopped.”

Under stop and frisk’s overall policy, 684,330 people were stopped and interrogated in 2011, which was a 14 percent increase from 2010. Of those stopped and interrogated, 92 percent were men and 87 percent were either black or Hispanic. It’s a fact that’s not lost on National Action Network President and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton.

A vocal opponent against the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy, Sharpton said that the ruling was nice. But it’s just a start.

“A Bronx Judge’s ruling today that the NYPD must cease the practice of stop-and-frisk policing outside of private buildings in the Bronx because it is unconstitutional, is a step in the right direction to having New Yorkers not be characterized as guilty until proven innocent rather than innocent until proven guilty,” said Sharpton. It has been our contention that Judges ought to address this policy that is in effect based on race and location—in some location one becomes an automatic suspect while in others automatic citizens and that is a true violation of people’s civil rights.”

New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams cited his experience in working with tenants when it came to his approval of the ruling.

“As a former tenant organizer, I actually support the existence of programs like Clean Halls which promote a stronger relationship between communities and the police and make tenants feel safer,” said Williams in a statement. “However, because of the NYPD’s overzealous behavior, trust has degraded to the point that it is difficult to discern worthwhile initiatives.”

McGregor Smyth, of The Bronx Defenders hoped that this ruling would force the NYPD to look collectively in the mirror and reassess their practices and how they affect the residents of places like the Bronx.

“Today, the Court recognized that thousands of Bronx residents are under siege in their homes – not by crime, but by a Police Department that is out of control,” said Smyth “The NYPD now must end this illegal and abusive dragnet once and for all.”