New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasts the judge’s ruling on the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” tactic, saying “the judge clearly telegraphed her intentions” before the start of the trial.The New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” tactic, under which millions of mostly black and Hispanic people have been questioned by police over the past decade, has violated constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled Monday.
The judge, Shira Scheindlin of Manhattan federal court, ordered an independent monitor to oversee the program. She pointedly did not order an end to the tactic.
Four men had sued the city, saying that they were unfairly targeted by police. The judge ruled that their Fourth and 14th Amendment rights had been violated. The Fourth protects against unreasonable searches, and the 14th guarantees equal protection under the law.
Scheindlin found that the police had used the tactic 4.4 million times between 2004 and 2012, and that 80 percent of the stops were of blacks and Hispanics.
“The City’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” the judge wrote. “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting ‘the right people’ is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.”
The balance between security and freedom/privacy seems endlessly puzzling for our society. In my view, the judge made the right call here. Random searches of free adults without probable cause is clearly unconsitutional.