Wednesday, 14. August 2013
Judge Shira Scheindlin said the policy violates the constitutional rights of minorities in New York City, specifically African American and Hispanic males. Scheindlin added that by allowing officers to stop and frisk civilians at their discretion, the police are basically resorting to a “policy of indirect racial profiling.”
“[This has led to law enforcement officials stopping] blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.”
In her decision, Judge Scheindlin cited some statistics to support her argument that minorities were unjustly having their rights infringed upon. Scheindlin noted:
- 83 percent of stop-and-frisk interactions involved African Americans or Hispanics.
- African Americans and Hispanics make up just over 50 percent of the population in New York City.
- African Americans and Hispanics “were more likely to be subjected to the use of force than whites.”
- White were actually more likely to be found to be carrying illegal weapons or contraband.
In her 195-page ruling, Scheindlin said city officials have intentionally infringed upon the rights of minorities by simply touting the lowered crime rates over the last few years.
“I also conclude that the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” Scheindlin said. “It is impermissible to subject all members of a racially defined group to heightened police enforcement because some members of that group are criminals.”
The stop-and-frisk policies are a keystone technique in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, under which the city has seen murder and other major crime levels fall to historic lows. Bloomberg vowed to appeal the ruling.
“You’re not going to see any change in tactics overnight,” said Bloomberg. He added that he hopes the appeals process takes a significant amount of time so there will be no changes during his administration. “I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a lot of people dying,” Bloomberg said.
The case in question dates back to 1968, when the Supreme Court ruled that certain stop-and-frisk techniques were constitutionally permissible in the case of Terry v. Ohio. Judge Scheindlin said if police are going to conduct the stops, they need to do so in a way that “protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much needed protection.”
One way in which Scheindlin believes the policy can be remedied is by placing mounted cameras on police officers to record their interactions. She instituted a pilot program to mount cameras on officers in five precincts across the city to monitor stop-and-frisk encounters, and she also appointed a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office to oversee the program.
Related source: New York Times