Landmark ruling: NYPD's stop-and-frisk deemed unconstitutional

Historic federal ruling finds NYPD tactic discriminatory, orders greater oversight

By Natasha Lennard
Published August 12, 2013 1:37PM (EDT)
   (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
(Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

With a landmark decision in a historic trial, federal judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices were (as many civil liberties advocates and community groups have long argued) discriminatory and unconstitutional.

During the lengthy Floyd vs. City of New York trial, both victims of undue NYPD stops and officers themselves gave evidence. It was revealed that the police worked with a quota system, which encouraged officers to target young black and Latino men in poor areas in order to hand out tickets and make arrests on drug charges, based on stops made without probable cause.

The New York Times noted on the judge's decision:

These stop-and-frisk episodes, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment.

To fix the constitutional violations, Judge Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan said she intended to designate an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and fellow stop-and-frisk cheerleader Mayor Michael Bloomberg have long pushed back against greater independent oversight for the police. However, Judge Scheindlin's ruling aligns with both the statistics and testimony of many of the five million-plus recipients of police stops under Bloomberg's mayorship (86 percent of which on black or Latino individuals and 88 percent of the stops did not result in even an arrest or summons) that the New York cops have systematically been harassing and discriminating the poor, black, brown and young of the city.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Cops Floyd Vs. City Of New York Judge Shira Scheindlin New York Nypd Police Brutality Stop-and-frisk