Judge grants class action status in suit against NYPD stop-and-frisk policy

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A federal judge has granted class certification in a lawsuit that claims the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policies are unconstitutional.

Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. challenges stop-and-frisk as racial profiling and a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin will allow people who have been stopped and frisked to serve as plaintiffs in the suit.

“Suspicionless stops should never occur,” Scheindlin said in her decision. Defendants’ cavalier attitude towards the prospect of a ‘widespread practice of suspicionless stops’ displays a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.”

The NYPD conducted 685,724 stops and searches in 2011. That is a 600 percent increase since 2002, according to information provided to the Center for Constitutional Rights by the NYPD.

Regarding that increase, Scheindlin said she believes the NYPD has a “policy of establishing performance standards and demanding increased levels of stops and frisks.”

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has defended the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies,
crediting them with a decrease in violence in historically crime-ridden
neighborhoods, though he stayed mum on the issue of the lawsuit this morning. 

Kelly and New York Attorney General Schneiderman were both asked about the suit’s class action status at an unrelated press conference.

Both declined to comment, and Schneiderman added that his office is not involved in any stop-and-frisk legal issues.

Kelly said it was an ongoing issue, and would not comment.

“It is what it is,” he said.

Other New York officials were quick to respond to Judge Scheindlin’s decision.

“Today’s decision by Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin granting class action status to individuals affected by the New York Police Department’s current practice of Stop and Frisk is a wake up call – and it is time for the City to face the damage done by this divisive policy,” Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said about the suit.


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