NEW YORK, August 16, 2013 — Over the past quarter century, New York City officials have worked to make the Big Apple the safest large city in the country.
City leaders warn that a federal judge’s recent ruling could reverse that progress and make the city a more dangerous destination.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin on Monday ruled NYPD’s co-called “Stop-and-Frisk” policy is unconstitutional, saying it is “indirect racial profiling.” The judge also ordered a federally appointed monitor oversee changes to the department policy.
“The NYPD’s ability to stop and question suspects that officers have reason to believe have committed crimes, or are about to commit crimes, is the kind of policing that courts across the nation have found, for decades, to be constitutionally valid,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during a press briefing. “If this decision were to stand, it would turn those precedents on their head — and make our city, and in fact the whole country, a more dangerous place.”
New York City officials plan to appeal Scheindlin’s ruling. But, the ruling, legal experts say, could have broad ramifications for departments nationwide that have similar policies in place.
“Police stops are just one component of multiple efforts by the Department that have saved lives and driven the murder rate to record lows,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said during a press briefing.
“We do not engage in racial profiling, it is prohibited by law, it is prohibited by our own regulations,” Kelly said. “We train our officers that they need reasonable suspicion to make a stop, and I can assure you that race is never a reason to conduct a stop. The NYPD is the most racially and ethnically diverse police department in the world.”
During their press briefing this week, Bloomberg and Kelly hammered home the notion that the policy is working. During Bloomberg’s first 11 years in office, there were 7,363 fewer murders in the city compared to the 11 years prior to his tenure, Kelly said.
“Let’s be clear: People have a right to walk down the street without being targeted by the police — and we have a duty to uphold that right,” Bloomberg said.
“But people also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged,” Bloomberg added. “And for those rights to be protected, we have to give the members of our Police Department the tools they need to do their jobs without being micro-managed and second-guessed every day by a judge or a monitor.”
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