New York's New Mayor Drops Appeal of Stop-and-Frisk Ruling

Today New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
that the city has reached a settlement agreement with
the lawyers who
the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program in federal court.
The agreement leaves in place U.S. District Judge Shira
Scheindlin’s August 2013
that the program was unconstitutional and the reforms
she ordered, including a federal monitor and body cameras to record
police encounters. Those changes had been blocked by an appeal that
De Blasio promised to drop if elected mayor. “We’re here today to
turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” De
Blasio said at a press conference today. “We believe in ending the
overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young
African-American and Latino men.”

As that remark suggests, the NYPD will continue to stop and
frisk people, which the Supreme Court has said is permitted under
the Fourth Amendment when police reasonably suspect someone is
involved in criminal activity and (for the pat-down) that he is
armed. Statistics at the center of the case Scheindlin heard
indicate that street stops by New York cops, which overwhelmingly
targeted young black and Hispanic men, frequently failed this test.
Between January 2004 and June 2012, when the NYPD made 4.4 million
stops, only 12 percent of the people treated like criminals were
arrested or issued a summons. Even more striking, although police
are supposed to frisk a subject only if they reasonably believe he
is armed, 52 percent of these encounters included pat-downs, only
1.5 percent of which discovered a weapon. Even when officers
reached into subjects’ clothing after feeling what they claimed to
think was a weapon, they were right only 9 percent of the time.

Tellingly, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s main defense of
the stop-and-frisk program was that it worked by deterring young
men from carrying guns, not that it complied with the requirements
of the Fourth Amendment. Yet even before Scheindlin’s ruling, the
NYPD responded to constitutional criticism of the program by

dialing it back
. The number of stop-and-frisk encounters,
which grew from
about 100,000 in Bloomberg’s first year as mayor to almost 700,000
in 2011, fell to
about 530,000 in 2012. In the first three quarters of 2013, there
were 179,000 stops.

from Hit & Run

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