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New York Stop-and-Frisk | What You Need to Know

A New York federal judge recently ruled that the stop-and-frisk tactics used by the New York Police Department (NYPD) violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city.

Stop, question and frisk is an NYPD practice in which police officers detain and question pedestrians, and potentially search them, if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the pedestrian in question has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. 

Presiding Judge Shira Scheindlin concluded in her decision that the current stop-and-frisk practices of the NYPD demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, as well as the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The judge further wrote in her decision that “the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.”

According to a report from the Public Advocates Office, in 2012, over 532,911 stop-and-frisk searches were conducted by NYPD. Over 50% of the people stopped were Black and resided in Brooklyn. In contrast, the areas with the least amount of stops tend to be ones where white people resided.

The city has recently challenged the stop-and frisk ruling. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appealed the ruling saying that the NYPD does not racially profile and that the ruling is biased against the police force. He warned that if the stop-and-frisk policy ends, the city will be “a more dangerous place.” He further stated that “this is a very dangerous decision made by a judge who I believe does not understand what good policing is. We just cannot let that happen.”

Proponents and Opponents of the Ruling

Proponents of the ruling have spoken out for years about implementing new laws to reduce the racial profiling of NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice amongst Black and Latino youths throughout the city. For instance, Zakiyah Ansari, a leader in New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, says she wonders “when we will get to a point where parents don’t have to be afraid.” 

Opponents have claimed a recent spike in crime as a result of the ruling. The Post Editorial Board of the New York Post stated in a recent publication that shootings in the city soared 13% as a result of the ruling.  I recommend you read Christopher Mathias recent article which debunks some of the claims the New York Post makes in regard to the recent spike in crime.

I will be writing a follow-up article in the near future that will discuss the results of the appeal.