SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

August 13, 2013

NYPD wrongly targeted minorities, judge rules

NEW YORK — The nation’s largest police department illegally and systematically singled out large numbers of blacks and Hispanics under its controversial stop-and-frisk policy, a federal judge ruled yesterday while appointing an independent monitor to oversee major changes, including body cameras on some officers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would appeal the ruling, which was a stinging rebuke to a policy he and the New York Police Department have defended as a lifesaving, crime-fighting tool that helped lead the city to historic crime lows. The legal outcome could affect how and whether other cities employ the tactic.

“The city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote in her ruling. “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.”

Stop-and-frisk has been around for decades in some form, but recorded stops increased dramatically under the Bloomberg administration to an all-time high in 2011 of 684,330, mostly of black and Hispanic men. The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by four men, all minorities, and became a class-action case.

About half the people who are stopped are subject only to questioning. Others have their bag or backpack searched, and sometimes police conduct a full pat-down. Only 10 percent of all stops result in arrest, and a weapon is recovered a small fraction of the time.

Scheindlin noted she was not putting an end to the practice, which is constitutional, but was reforming the way the NYPD implemented its stops.

In her long ruling, she determined at least 200,000 stops were made without reasonable suspicion, the necessary legal benchmark, lower than the standard of probable cause needed to justify an arrest. She said that rank-and-file officers were pressured by superiors to make stops — and that high-ranking police officials ignored mounting evidence that bad stops were being made.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • 140801_SN_DLE_BEVDEPOT10 PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Beverly MBTA garage opens Current and former state and city officials gathered Friday, Aug. 1, to celebrate the opening of Beverly's brand-new MBTA parking garage.

    August 2, 2014

  • Hunt underway after reported kidnapping at knife point in Wenham

    Police in Wenham and surrounding towns as well as state police units are searching for a man who reportedly kidnapped a 21-year-old Wenham woman at knife point Friday night.

    August 1, 2014

  • Police in helicopters spot marijuana plants in Salem, Peabody PEABODY -- The state police buzzed over Peabody by helicopter this week and spotted marijuana plants growing outside a home on St. Ann's Avenue. A ground unit was alerted and cut down the plants. The operation was part of regular "marijuana eradicati

    August 1, 2014

  • 140801_SN_DLE_BEVDEPOT3.jpg Beverly MBTA garage opens

    Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Mike Cahill opened the new MBTA parking garage Friday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the roof.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sex offender found in New Hampshire

    The Level 3 sex offender who allegedly cut off his GPS bracelet and absconded after he was spotted with a 16-year-old boy, in violation of his probation in a child rape case, has been arrested in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    August 1, 2014