In a repudiation of a major element in the Bloomberg administration’s crime-fighting legacy, a federal judge has found that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in New York, and called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms.
In a blistering decision issued on Monday, the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, found that the Police Department had “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling” that targeted young minority men for stops. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the city would appeal the ruling, angrily accusing the judge of deliberately not giving the city “a fair trial.”
The stops, 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, as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, according to the 195-page decision.
Judge Scheindlin’s criticism extended beyond the conduct of police officers; in holding the city liable for a battery of constitutional violations, the judge found that top police officials acted with deliberate indifference. She said that police commanders were content to dismiss allegations of racial profiling as “a myth created by the media.”
Photo: Leroy Downes, a plaintiff in the stop-and-frisk trial, spoke at a news conference at the Center for Constitutional Rights after a federal judge ruled that the practice violated the rights of people of color.