Stop and Frisk has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. The judge has further ordered the NYPD to cease the practice immediately.
US District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin cited the fourth and 14 Amendments in her ruling. Her decision was based on a class action lawsuit filed by four men who were stopped an frisked by the NYPD.
As reported by ABC News, the men complained that they were singled out due to their race. In the last ten years, nearly five million people were stopped and frisked by the NYPD. Records show that a majority of those people were either black or Hispanic males.
Witnesses in the lawsuit included 12 individuals who testified that they were stopped solely because of their race.
Judge Scheindlin sided with the plaintiffs, stating that they had “readily established that the NYPD implements its policies regarding stop and frisk in a manner that discriminates based on race.”
Law enforcement has argued that the policy does not single out any particular race. They explain that the practice is simply a law enforcement tool that fights crime and saves lives.
Attorneys for the city argued that the practice is monitored internally. Two divisions were created to oversee the practice, including a citizen complaint and internal affairs bureau.
As reported by NBC News, Mayor Michael Bloomberg credits the policy for a major reduction in gun-related crime. He contends that stop and frisk has made New York “the safest big city in America.”
Stop and frisk allows NYPD officers to stop and search anyone in New York, without reasonable cause.
Judge Scheindlin has ruled that stop and frisk violates Fourth Amendment rights against “unreasonable search and seizure.” She points out that the issue was addressed numerous times, yet the searches continued.
Scheindlin also mentioned the 14 Amendment in her ruling, which addresses “due process” and “equal protection.”
Peter L. Zimroth has been appointed by Schiendlin to monitor the NYPD. Zimroth is tasked with assuring that the NYPD ceases stop and frisk practices.
Stop and search has been a highly controversial policy since its inception. The NYPD, and Mayor Bloomberg, contend that the practice has saved lives. Opponents explain that fighting crime is not an excuse for violating human rights.
[Image via Flickr]