NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court yesterday blocked a judge’s ruling that found the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy discriminated against minorities, and it took the unusual step of removing her from the case, saying interviews she gave during the trial called her impartiality into question.
The city applauded the appeals court’s decision. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who was shouted down over the tactic by students during a speech at Brown University this week, said he was grateful for it.
“This is indeed an important decision for all New Yorkers and for the men and women of the New York City police department who work very hard day in and day out to keep this city safe,” he said.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin will be on hold pending the outcome of an appeal by the city. But it may not be an issue after next week’s mayoral election: Democrat Bill de Blasio, who’s leading in polls, has said he would drop objections to the ruling, which calls for major changes to the police tactic.
The judge decided in August that the city violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics by disproportionally stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking them. She assigned a monitor to help the police department change its policy and training programs on the tactic.
The three-judge panel heard arguments Tuesday. Lawyers in the case said the police department hasn’t had to do anything except meet with a monitor since the judge’s decision, but the city said police officers are afraid to stop and frisk people now, and the number of stop-and-frisks has dropped dramatically.
The appeals panel didn’t change the deadline for the appeal and said it expected arguments in March, well after the new mayor takes office.