Yesha Callahan

Judge Rules NYPD’s Stop & Frisk Is Unconstitutional


In what could be considered a victory for all New Yorkers, this morning a judge  ruled that the “stop and frisk” procedure commonly practiced by the NYPD is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin called it “indirect racial profiling”.

“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” Scheindlin wrote in her opinion.

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg still stands behind the procedure.

“People also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged,” he said at a news conference, repeating his conviction that the program resulted in a drastic reduction in crime that made New York the “poster child” for safe U.S. cities.

Judge Scheindlin ordered the immediate  appointment of an independent monitor and other changes to police policies. Bloomberg plans on appealing Judge Scheindlin’s ruling.

From Reuters:

The number of stops rose to 685,724 in 2011 from 160,851 in 2003, with about half resulting in physical searches, a 2012 report by the New York Civil Liberties Union showed.

In 2011, there were more frisk searches of young black men than the number of these men living in the city, the report found.

Only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos searched by the police in 2011 had weapons on them, compared with 3.8 percent of whites, the NYCLU report said.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defends policy against racial profiling allegations

Bloomberg and Kelly countered that the practice has driven down violent crime and limited the number of illegal guns being carried on the streets.

Homicides fell from 649 in 2001 to 419 in 2012, the lowest number since records have been kept. Other major felonies have fallen by similar proportions.

Proponents of the “stop and frisk” procedure feel that once the new policies take effect, the crime rates will rise and it would prove Bloomberg’s point.

You can read the full ruling here.

  1. August 12, 2013 - Reply

    Next step: a get-out-the-word campaign to ensure the residents of NY know that if they are stopped and frisked, it violates their rights. Don’t let this “Juneteen.”

  2. August 12, 2013 - Reply

    Stop and frisk is still constitutional. NYPD’s stop and frisk is not. And Bill Bratten did not institute this form of stop and frisk in NYC. This was NYC Commissioner Kelly’s creation with Mayor Bloomberg’s blessing. Violent crime plummeted and I suspect it will increase now that thugs know no one will be randomly stopping them. Life’s tradeoffs.

    • August 13, 2013 - Reply


      At Annoyed…..
      I was talking to my husband about the same thing!!!! Ok first I am also afraid! you can thumbs me down if you want but I live in Bedstuy and there are people that should be frisked it would prevent so many black on black crimes in my neighborhood!!!

      • August 13, 2013 - Reply


        I responded to my post with more detail that didn’t make it here. I’ll give it another try. Read Prof. Franklin Zimring’s The City That Became Safe. In his lectures he states that murder rates declined so much in NYC that the life expectancy for black males increased. Crime in NYC declined far beyond the decline trends in other cities. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of years.

  3. August 12, 2013 - Reply

    I hope people are signing petitions for Bloomberg’s impeachment. I think MoveOn started one. However, NYC stop and frisk has been in enforcement for months.

    • August 12, 2013 - Reply


      He’s in his last term, and campaign season is in full effect for elections this November.

  4. August 12, 2013 - Reply

    Can someone notify the media that the judge did not rule “stop, question and frisk” unconstitutional. The USSC affirmed in its Terry decision that the police can stop and search individuals when they have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. What the judge ruled today is that the current policy has practiced by the NYPD is unconstitutional because based on the testimony and stats based on the NYPDs own records, men of color are disparately stopped for no other reason than their race and the neighborhood they happen to be in. Plus the fact that 88% of those stopped are never cited for any type of criminal activity.
    We do a major dis-service to our own community when we fail to present these developments on a factual level. I understand the pressure to get the information out to the audience but it is so much better to be correct than first.

    • August 13, 2013 - Reply


      I somewhat agree with you but what about preventing murder and other crimes from happening??? how can we lower the numbers in our neighborhoods??

  5. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    I am so conflicted on this issue. On the one hand, I totally believe stop and frisk is unconstitutional when used solely to racially profile young men of color. And, I think it left the door open to police brutality and harassment no to mention it likely heightened racial tensions between poorer blacks and the law enforcement teams slated to protect them.

    But, I was listening to some folks on the other side of the argument on NPR this morning. Older people in the community said they felt safer walking outside. They were mentioning that they have greater freedom now than ever before. So, I kind of identified with that.

    But then I thought, well, of course you feel safe, you’re not being stopped and frisked. For many young black men, the police are just as much a threat as criminals. The embarrassment, anxiety, and personal intrusion these men must feel disturbs me. So, I am glad it is shot down for now. Hopefully, NY can come up with better ways to keep the streets safe in the future.

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