Federal Judge Scorches Bloomberg, NYPD In Landmark ‘Stop And Frisk’ Ruling


A Federal judge ruled the New York Police Department’s discriminatory implementation of its reviled “Stop and Frisk” policy unConstitutional Monday, rebuking mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly – both of whom had exponentially expanded upon the decades-old protocol that authorized police to stop and search people on the street without probable cause.

In a landmark ruling, Federal judge Shira Scheindlin said the policy violates the 4th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, and appointed attorney Peter Zimroth to serve as an independent monitor to review departmental practices and ensure the city would henceforth conduct stops and searches that don’t violate the law.

Zimroth will enact training and policy reforms and conduct periodic compliance reviews, issuing public reports every six months. Scheindlin set no end date for his indefinite appointment.

The ruling does not completely overturn Stop and Frisk; instead, it focuses on ensuring that police do not continue the practice based on racial profiling of minorities. That angered plenty of Constitutional conservatives, but was still harsh enough a ruling to elicit a pledge from the Bloomberg administration that the city would appeal Scheindlin’s ruling.

In the lengthy ruling, Scheindlin scorched Bloomberg, Kelly and the police department’s administration as a whole, saying they had all “turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.”

In touting the drop in New York’s crime rate under the expansion of Stop and Frisk, Bloomberg had openly acknowledged  that police were authorized to racially profile young men on the street – particularly blacks and Hispanics – and said he would be pleased if the department, in fact, began targeting fewer white people.

“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” retorted Scheindlin in her ruling.

The order came as a result of two separate class action lawsuits brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Scheindlin noted that Bloomberg’s boast of the fallen crime rate was irrelevant in considering whether the policy is Constitutional.

“Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime – preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example – but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective,” she wrote.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Harold Olsen

    I’m glad the judge ruled as he did. I consider most, if not all police departments in the major cities of this country, to be corrupt. But, none shout corruption, at least to me, like the New York City Police Department. They epitomize police corruption. Second, a very close second, I’d say would be the Chicago Police Department.

    • wavesofgrain

      Don’t forget the LAPD!!

  • red neck

    I don’t believe that “race” should have anything to do with this after all it is a violation of the constitutional rights of people regardless of skin color and gender.
    Blooming idiot if he were to get his way would implement full cavity searches and call it “for your safety”…. This is just another example of why the government needs to be abolished!

  • charliep

    I have mixed emotions over this decision. I certainly believe that the United States as a whole is rapidly becoming a “Police State” and warrants our concern about stopping this infringement on our constitutional rights. However I am acutely aware of Israel’s success in preventing terrorist activity by racial profiling, most especially prior to passengers entering the airport, thereby mostly eliminating intrusion methods employed by “TSA” inspectors. I am also acutely aware of New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” policy, which has had great impact on the reduction of crime in New York City, this in itself partially justifies racial profiling in that “Statistically Probability” reveals the likeliness of possible criminal activity which is verified by the results of the “Reduced Criminal” activity by employment of this type of racial profiling. I am neither Black or Hispanic, but wouldn’t be bothered or annoyed if Stopped and Frisked as long as the police involved were courteous with some exploitation on why this was taking place, as I have nothing to hide from the authorities, and view this as crime prevention, even though intrusive.

    Therefore I support this policy, even though I think it is a bit intrusive.. The times we live in justify this employment. However we must keep a Jaundice Eye on this policy as it can be over employed in areas where there is no likeliness of criminal activity, and may have already been over employed. The public must always be alert to abuse of something like this, as like it or not there are policeman who let their authority go to their head, and are no better then the “Thugs” that they are suppose to be protecting the general public from.

    • Robert Messmer

      “The times we live in justify” not really. Do you not realize that the reason NY had/has a high crime rate is due, at least in part, to the utter lack of ability of the citizens to protect themselves? Correct me if I am wrong cause a lot of what I “know” about NY is from tv, but does not NY practically forbid ownership of guns? Isn’t it even illegal to own and carry pepper-spray? Once your city and state government has announced to all thugs, current and future, do what you wish because we will not allow the citizens to defend themselves, well what do you expect? And I believe that under NY law you can only claim self-defense during the actual attack, if your assailant has turned away to leave and you kill him with a baseball bat then you are at fault because since he turned away you were no longer in imminent danger?

      • chocopot

        I spent most of my life living in NYC (I now live in suburban NJ). NYC is a nightmare for so many reasons I could write a book. Yes, you are correct in that it is nearly impossible to legally possess a firearm in NYC. As for a carry permit, forget it unless you are a politician, celebrity, or judge. The last thing the authorities in NYC want you to be able to do is defend yourself. And, as we all learned from the Bernie Goetz case, G-d help you if you are white and dare to defend yourself against non-white attackers. Even if you survive the attack, the legal system will bury you. NYC is the most azz-backwards place in the country.

  • had_to_be_said

    “Stop and Frisk”, without “probable cause” is a violent crime being committed against U.S. citizens on a daily basis. Furthermore, if the perpetrator (law-enforcement, or the politicians that are instituting this crime) have sworn to uphold the Constitution, then they are committing high treason. And, this court’s absolutely obscene position that these wholly un-Constitutional actions are acceptable… as long as the state is also accosting enough “Caucasians”… is yet another blatant example of RACISM in government.

    And, I think most Americans here know exactly what should be done to, armed, criminals who are actively engaged in physical assaults on innocent people.

    Sad to say…

    • Ed

      I could not have said it any better. I refuse to give up ANY of my constitutionally guaranteed rights without a fight, and it might get ugly.

  • Scottish McMillan

    The last line, “[those methods] cannot be used, no matter how effective,” raises my antennae… “No matter how effective”? By calling the methods “effective”, she does the cause of protecting our liberties no favors. I personally disagree that “stop-and-frisk” is effective at “keeping the peace” in the Land of the Free. If she states her opinion in those simple terms, she leaves the door open for an amendment that will allow this down the road, by suggesting that the rights acknowleged by our Constitution are “ineffective”. That’s a very backhanded “supporting” of our rights, if ever heard it. Her actions may do well, but her words do damage, and I’m a bit concerned about which may be greater.

  • mnkysnkle

    The judge is still trying to get around the constitution. Any search without probable cause or reasonable suspicion is still unconstitutional. Whether or not you are in a public place or not. Your “person” still has that right to privacy. “The right to be secure in your person and affects”.