The infamous NYPD anti-crime policy known as “stop and frisk” was shot down by a federal judge today, who cited that it “violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers”.

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The policy granted police the right–without warrant–to temporarily detain and search individuals they deem “suspicious.” In its ten-year history, stop and frisk has been subject to mass scrutiny because although police have claimed the procedure and its execution are objective, statistics show they are gravely slanted and target young males of color in far greater numbers than they do their white counterparts.

The arbitrary and capricious nature of the policy was highlighted in federal judge Shira Scheindlin’s decision today, which stated:


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. […]

While the Supreme Court has long recognized the right of police officers to briefly stop and investigate people who are behaving suspiciously, Judge Scheindlin found that the New York police had overstepped that authority. She found that officers were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop.

While civil rights groups everywhere are celebrating, stop and frisk is not actually over yet. In fact, judge Scheindlin appointed an outside lawyer, Peter Zimroth, to monitor the practice’s administration and implementation and help the NYPD amend it to better comply with the Constitution.

Keep checking in with The Source for more developments.

–Ese (@140LetterEssay)

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