A New York judge has ruled that the “stop-and-frisk” policy carried out by city police, often the focus of allegations of racial profiling, is unconstitutional, and has ordered that a federal regulator must oversee their reform.
In a stinging decision that appeared to go against the crime-fighting strategy of city Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Judge Shira Scheindlin said that the New York Police Department had “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling” that targeted young minority men for stops.
Judge Scheindlin appeared to be referring to Mr. Bloomberg when she said in her ruling that the city's highest officials had "turned a blind eye" to evidence that officers carried out the searches in a “racially discriminatory manner.”
Unsurprisingly the ruling elicited an angry response from both Mr. Bloomberg, and Police Ccommissioner Ray Kelly, both of whom were said to be “fervent supporters” of the stop-and-frisk policy.
Mr. Bloomberg immediately vowed that the city would appeal the “dangerous” ruling, and angrily accused the judge of not giving the city “a fair trial.” He added that the judge “conveyed a disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our officers, who form the most diverse police department in the U.S.”
Mr. Kelly who has faced flak for the NYPD’s alleged ham-handed approach on numerous prior occasions described the ruling as “disturbing” and “highly offensive,” adding that it was “simply, recklessly untrue,” that his officers had engaged in racial profiling.
According to reports New York state Senator Eric Adams, a former police officer, had testified that Mr. Kelly told him that the NYPD focused on young blacks and Latinos because “he wanted to instil fear in them, every time they leave their home they could be stopped by the police.” Mr. Kelly has denied this allegation, albeit not in court, it was said.
Judge Scheindlin was said to have written that she found Mr. Adams’ testimony credible, because of “the City’s failure to offer any rebuttal evidence regarding Commissioner Kelly’s statement at this meeting.”