The NYPD’s infamous “Stop and Frisk” program has been deemed unconstitutional by federal judge on Tuesday, which will change the city’s use of police stops as a crime-fighting tactic.
The ruling finds the Bloomberg administration act a violation of the Fourth Amendment that protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. The stop and frisk program was designed for police stops conducted in front of several thousand private residential buildings located in the Bronx.
These buildings were enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program where property managers have asked police to patrol in front of their buildings and arrest trespassers. However Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the Manhattan Federal District Court believes that officers have been routinely stopping people outside the properties and searching them without reasonable suspicion that they were trespassing.
Judge Scheindlin stated in her ruling:
“While it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the N.Y.P.D. has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside TAP buildings in the Bronx.”
The judge is currently presiding over 3 significant stop and frisk lawsuits that could change the strategy used by NYC’s finest to prevent street crimes. Scheindlin’s decision currently applies to only one of the lawsuits, and aims it’s criticism towards the manner in which the officers are trained to handle such encounters. Evidence in the case, she has found, “strengthens the conclusion that the N.Y.P.D.’s inaccurate training has taught officers the following lesson: Stop and question first, develop reasonable suspicion later.”
In the decision released yesterday, Judge Scheindlin has ordered the N.Y.P.D. to cease performing trespass stops outside the buildings enrolled in the program unless there is reasonable suspicion before hand. Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that requires officers to be acting on more than just a hunch.
N.Y.P.D. police commissioner Ray W. Kelly has condemned the ruling, contending that program also known as Clean Halls gave residents of the buildings a modicum of safety.
“Today’s decision unnecessarily interferes with the department’s efforts to use all of the crime-fighting tools necessary to keep Clean Halls buildings safe and secure.”
A hearing has been called to discuss the possible remedies to the issues raised by Scheindlin’s decision. At that hearing the judge will consider requiring the Police Department to create a form of written policy that specifies the circumstances in which a citizen can be searched on the suspicion of trespass.
What do you think of the stop and frisk program? Let us know in the comments below!