SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

August 13, 2013

NYPD wrongly targeted minorities, judge rules

(Continued)

“The city and its highest officials believe that blacks and Hispanics should be stopped at the same rate as their proportion of the local criminal suspect population,” she wrote. “But this reasoning is flawed because the stopped population is overwhelmingly innocent — not criminal.”

She also cited violations of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“Far too many people in New York City have been deprived of this basic freedom far too often,” she said. “The NYPD’s practice of making stops that lack individualized reasonable suspicion has been so pervasive and persistent as to become not only a part of the NYPD’s standard operating procedure, but a fact of daily life in some New York City neighborhoods.”

Scheindlin did not give many specifics for how to correct such practices but instead directed the monitor to develop reforms to policies, training, supervision and discipline with input from the communities most affected. She also ordered a pilot program in which officers test body-worn cameras in the one precinct per borough where most stops occurred. The idea came up inadvertently during testimony, but Scheindlin seized on it as a way to provide objective records of the encounters.

Scheindlin appointed Peter L. Zimroth, the city’s former lead attorney and previously a chief assistant district attorney, as the monitor. He did not return a call seeking comment.

At a news conference, Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly blasted the ruling, saying the judge ignored historic crime lows and displayed a “disturbing disregard” for the “good intentions” of police officers who do not racially profile.

“There is just no question that stop, question, frisk has saved countless lives, and most of those lives saved have been black and Hispanic young men,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said police have done exactly what the courts and constitution allow to keep the city safe. The judge simply does not understand “how policing works,” he said, and the result could be a return to the days of crime and mayhem from the 1980s and 1990 — when murders hit an all-time high of 2,245.

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