Stop-and-Frisk Class Action

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anti-stop and frisk protesters outside Manhattan Court on April 30, 2012. Anti-stop and frisk protesters outside Manhattan Court on April 30, 2012. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

A judge gave the go-ahead to a class action suit against the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy. WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang talks about the suit and its potential impact.


Ailsa Chang

Comments [19]

Sheldon from Brooklyn

KA - I live in Crown Heights Brooklyn. I've lived in NY probably longer than you have been alive so I know how dangerous this city was.

I appreciate the anti-crime policies and the hard work of the last 3 mayors and the NYPD, I don't know what country your parents came from but this in America - not a banana republic.

If it's ok for 3 guys to jump out of an unmarked impala and rifle through your pockets without asking you - fine. It's for the rest of us who care about the law.

May. 17 2012 04:57 PM

Steve from Harlem - and while yes I agree with you... You also know just as well as I do that there were MANY underhanded tactics used back in the 80's and 90's (by both the police and FBI) to bring crime under control. Many of those things will never make it into any crime fighting book. Let's not re-write history that it was all clean cut crime fighting. Yeah - I knew some people who were on Jackson Ave. in your area back in the day as well.

May. 17 2012 12:24 PM

Steven from Harlem - I agree 100% that it should be refined like every single public policy... but the problem is that most of the ppl complaining want it thrown out completely without realizing the implications. On the flip side - if you talk to some old Sicilians and Irish people who lived in some of those same neighborhoods previously... many of them felt discriminated on against also.

May. 17 2012 11:51 AM

Sheldon - what neighborhood in Brooklyn do you live in?? Have you ever been stopped or had your house raided? The only ppl who I know complain either never lived in a dangerous neighborhood or were involved themselves in wrong-doing - or forget how bad the ghetto used to be. The reality is "stop and frisk" is nothing new at all - it started under Giuliani - but it was never "policy". I can remember back around 94-95 when we used to "hang on the block" the police would walk up and ask us if we had any guns and would start to check us. That kept the thugs from wantonly walking around brandishing pistols. So please spare me. I used to go to many more funerals back then. I will give an example - one of the locations I noted was Creston Ave. in the Bronx. I can't even recall the amount of murders and shootings and robberies and millions of dollars in drugs sold on those corners of that one street...?? I MUCH prefer to see those 12 cops who were out there that night stopping people than what USED to happen every single day on that street. The country my family came here from is torn apart from violence. The police there just don't have the manpower to deal with it... and that's why the economy is so bad and why my family came to NY in the first place. Interestingly, none of my relatives complains about the NYPD tactics (though sometimes we complain about rudeness). Some of you should try living where we came from... or transport yourself back to the NY that knew 25 years ago.

May. 17 2012 11:46 AM
Steven from Harlem

I forgot to mention in my last post that I personally experience their overuse of stop and frisk. I get stopped more now than I did during the 90s. I am fully employed with no criminal record; why am I and many men like me deemed worthy of a police stop??

May. 17 2012 11:45 AM
Steven from Harlem

KA, I'm a latino male and lived in Mott Haven until 2008. I agree with you that stop and frisk is necessary, but its being overused. The reason why the police (and the FBI) cleared my old neighborhood of much of the crime was because they targeted the criminals. It makes sense to stop and frisk someone standing on the corner or in the park all day long or that guy wearing heavy, baggy clothes on a hot summer day. Stop and frisk really worked when the police actually worked with the community to identify and locate known drug dealers and their accomplices; the NYPD used to do this! But when you stop a man coming home from work or a man walking to the store because that person is of a darker hue and a police officer has a badge then it is a violation of your rights as a citizen. KA, its not about whether you "feel" as if the government is violating your rights; its about whether they ARE or aren't violating your rights. And stopping and frisking people without reasonable cause is a VIOLATION OF YOUR CIVIL RIGHTS! Its the government overimposing their authority over your individual rights.

May. 17 2012 11:38 AM
Bob from Westchester

I happen to agree strongly with Ms. Chang's position against the NYPD's stop & frisk policy. However, the fact that her position is so obvious in her reporting is weak journalism, well below WNYC's standards of objectivity (of which we are being reminded many times this week). She as well as the NYPD could use some re-training, hers in basic journalism principles. Lots of journalists have law degrees, but know how to separate reporting from the advocacy she learned in law school.

May. 17 2012 11:30 AM

Does being mayor invest Bloomberg with the power to cut constitutional corners or does it make abiding by the constitution a uniquely imperative responsibility?

May. 17 2012 11:25 AM
Bernard from Bronx

So Bloomberg says "if you poll the public you can find general agreement for stop and frisk" and therefore the practice is fine. Well, if you polled the German public during the Holocaust nightmare you would have found general approval of the Hitler regime. Does that mean the "final solution" was fine?

May. 17 2012 11:23 AM
Dan E

Gee- how would Bloomberg feel if he got stopped & frisked??

He'd be singing a much different tune!

May. 17 2012 11:17 AM

Here's a remedy — How about Mike Bloomberg, just once, expressing a tiny bit of humility. The sheer arrogance he spews at every news conference, especially on something like this class action, is a reminder of how indifferent he is to democracy.

As for Bloomberg and Kelly's arguments, there are two:

1. Stop and Frisk is a deterrent. This is the fallacy of affirming the consequent. A drop in crime comes after an increase in stop and frisk, therefore S&F works.

False. Crime rates were already dropping and have been for 20 years. Bloomberg trumpets this when it suits him.

2. Bad guys are leaving their guns at home. Really?! So they go out, commit a crime, which the victim reports. Then the bad guy goes home, stashes his gun, then goes back out so he can be stopped and frisked.

The pathological lying of Bloomberg and Kelly have never been more obvious.

May. 17 2012 11:16 AM

The City's argument in its papers submitted to the court is another sign of an alarming trend by the elites that they are beyond the reach of the courts, beyond any review....above the law.

May. 17 2012 11:15 AM
The Truth from Becky

There should also be a re-training of police officers to be sure that they are clear on the lawful criteria to "stop and frisk".

May. 17 2012 11:14 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

I appreciate what KA is saying, but from the many first-person accounts that I have read and heard, and from what Elsa Chang is now describing, the NYPD is out of control, given a blank check by our Mayor, and I am glad that there is now significant legal opposition.

Thanks, Brian, for running this segment.

May. 17 2012 11:13 AM
john from office

This Judge should move into a neighborhood "of Color" and see what her ruling may lead to.

Brian, you never have the NYPD or a spokesman on with Ms. Chang. She has been on a tear on Stop and Frisk and marijuana arrest. Her view is tainted.

May. 17 2012 11:10 AM

I can't find the text for the NYC's mayoral oath of office, but surely it includes the upholding of the New York State Constitution, if not also the U.S. Constitution. Here's article 1 section 12 of the New York State Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

What's shocking to me is that it's taken so long to take stop-and-frisk to court.

But it works, you say? It keeps crime down? Never mind that every instance of stop-and-frisk is itself a crime, and committed against citizens by those empowered by the citizenry to stop crime (which is a civic betrayal on the slippery slope to treason, in my opinion): we could exempt death squads of criminality and they would even more effectively lower crime rates, wouldn't they?

The state and federal constitutions are unambiguous and make no exceptions for demographics statistically more prone to criminal behavior. You want to stop crime, do it legally. Being a minority hanging on the street doesn't make searches de facto reasonable.

May. 17 2012 11:10 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

KA - randomly breaking down the house doors of suspected drug dealers without a warrant or stopping and going through someone's pockets without legal protocal may work or be "necessary" as you put it but that does not make it right or LEGAL.

Stop and frisk can be an effective tool if used correctly.

Unfortunately - the NYPD and the Mayor both seem to think the rule of law does not apply to them or their tactics.

May. 17 2012 10:59 AM
KA from NY

I am a minority and grew up in minority neighborhoods. Stop and Frisk is absolutely necessary. I know for a fact that when the "broken windows" theory was put into place in the 90's it changed things. This "stop and frisk" might not have been called that... but it existed. I know for a fact that many criminals in the areas I knew would stop carrying guns all the time. That said - that didn't stop them from having them and using them - BUT it absolutely did cut down on random shootings and robberies and the like. In the same way when they started going after people who jumped the turnstiles on the subway a lot of guys stopped carrying weapons. I know that for a fact as well because people I grew up around were caught doing just that. When I was a teenager I felt harassed by the police... but now as a responsible working adult... I generally have no problem with the police. I was stopped twice in the Bronx last year... but never frisked. One time the police were absolutely polite - and the other they weren't so much. However, neither time (even the one they weren't polite) did I think my rights were violated. The two streets I was on - I personally knew several ppl who were shot on both of them in the 90's and both are much safer now.

May. 17 2012 10:16 AM
Keith from Queens

I would like to point out that not only are people's 4th amendment rights clearly being violated by the stop & frisk policy, but their second amendment rights are even more clearly being targeted. We have a mayor who has issued a blanket ban on citizens owning firearms for their own protection and makes no attempt to hide it. The purpose of stop & frisk is not to violate the right to privacy - that's just an unfortunate side effect. The purpose is to strip the public of the right to defend themselves from injury, which has been established in McDonald v Chicago as being a right that applies to all Americans. Except for New Yorkers. Our mayor has made sure that no peasants in his fiefdom step out of line.

May. 17 2012 10:11 AM

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