Judge Rules NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Unconstitutional

Updated: Read the ruling

Monday, August 12, 2013

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin issued her long-awaited opinion finding that the New York City Police Department had violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in the way they have conducted stop-and-frisks. 

"Targeting young black and Hispanic men for stops based on the alleged criminal conduct of other young black or Hispanic men violates bedrock principles of equality," she wrote in her strongly-worded ruling.

In her opinion, which can be read in full below, Judge Scheindlin writes:

"To be very clear: I am not ordering an end to the practice of stop and frisk. The purpose of the remedies addressed in this Opinion is to ensure that the practice is carried out in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much-needed police protection."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reacting Monday afternoon at a press conference, was visibly angered by the judge's decision. "The judge ignored the realities of crime," he said, "like the fact that our police officers on patrol make an average of less than one stop a week."

More on Bloomberg's reaction.

The judge specified a number of steps the NYPD must take to reform stop-and-frisk. It must revise its policies and training procedures, especially its "over-broad definition of 'furtive behavior.' It must change the written documentation police must produce after stops, and it must institute a one-year body camera pilot program involving one precinct in each borough.

More on the judge's remedies from WNYC's Kate Hinds.

To oversee the reforms, the judge appointed an independent monitor, attorney Peter Zimroth. The judge added that "the Monitor's duties...will be no broader than necessary to end the constitutional violations in the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices."

Zimroth is a partner with the law firm of Arnold & Porter. Previously, he served as the corporation council, which is the city's chief lawyer; an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and as chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan. Judge Scheindlin noted in her ruling that "Mr. Zimroth (has) worked closely with the NYPD." She wrote that his role will be "specifically and narrowly focused on the City's compliance with reforming the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk — although this will inevitably touch on issues of training, supervision, monitoring, and discipline."

Zimroth, in a statement, said that he has lived in New York City almost all of his life and "I have great respect for the NYPD and the brave men and women who serve to protect us." He added, "I have always recognized that effective law enforcement is as imperative as the need for law enforcement officials to act within the constitution and laws."

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said there would be no immediate change in policing tactics. “We’re still analyzing the decision," he said, "and obviously we’re going to rely on the (NYC) Law Department to give us a specific interpretation of what happens next."

The city will ask the court for a stay of Judge Scheindlin's ruling until a court has a chance to hear an appeal.




Judge outlines what NYPD needs to do next.

The press conference starts at 54:00.


Ruling: Judge finds NYC stop-and-frisk policy violated rights.



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Comments [13]

Pierre F. Lherisson

Damned if you do damned if you don't. It is a Catch-22. The NYPD is a thankless job.
It is amazing to see some New Yorker ambivalence toward NYPD P/O that gets paid to keep them relatively safe. Not all of NYPD police are 'Saints" but the majority of them are risking their lives, doing a conscientious job to keep us safe despite of the fact they are "legally handcuffed" by a constellation of intricate rules that are mostly in the advantage of the perpetrators at the expense of the police safety and the public.
When perpetrator killed police on duty, very seldom the residents and politicians will protest against the perpetrator action but the reverse is not true.
When police are challenged in doing their jobs especially a high crime area, it is the resident of that area that will eventually pay the consequences, and will end up blaming the police. Most New Yorkers remember the carnage that occurred in the city during the crack epidemic from 1980 until 1994.
Some are invoking certain provisions of the constitution that no longer reflect the current realities. Society is dynamic while the constitution is static. This creates a lag between the configurations and dynamic of yesteryear residents of the city versus the current reality. Furthermore, NYC is not a melting pot yet. Some ethic groups tend to congregate themselves to specific zip codes areas according to certain historical patterns of emigration or immigration to the city.

Most White people seldom go to black, Hispanic and Asian neighborhood to commit common crimes because the payoff usually doesn’t worth the risk and could be easily identified. Similarly, most Black, Hispanic, Asian usually don’t go to White neighborhood to commit common crime because White usually live too far and it is too risky to be in a neighborhood where they could be easily identified. Having said that, it is less risky for an ethnic group to commit crime in his/her neighborhood than to go to a neighborhood where s/he does not blend.
The majority of police calls in a neighborhood usually reflect the ethnic composition of that given neighborhood unless some unusual events such as parades, demonstrations etc bring other unusual ethnic groups
Police calls usually reflect the ethnic composition of its residents and there is no way a rational police could make a distinction between suspects and innocents if they fit the radio broadcast description he received from 911 operator. NYPD should encourage community leaders to monitor their police radio traffic in order to understand the challenges and hazards that are associated with police work.
In case of doubt you could monitor NYPD on line by following this link:
or you could buy a Radio scanner online or at Radio Shack to monitor NYPD radio traffic: on frequencies listed on this link:

Aug. 26 2013 05:23 AM
Tony Soprano from North Caldwell

Let them kill themselves, who cares. Whites will just stay out of any minortiy hood, along with the police. Let God sort out the rest. This is going to be a sad and lesson filled experiment for the idiot sharpton and his sidekick obama followers. NYC will go down the tubes, well in minority neighborhoods anyway. Staying in the burbs till its over..

Aug. 24 2013 08:46 PM
Lili from NJ

If this happened in white neighborhoods, there would be SO much outrage (and just as much weed found).

Aug. 13 2013 03:26 PM

I have not been stopped and frisked but in 1969 I was detained overnight by being in the wrong neighborhood (this is Chicago) and had to pursue the basis of this to clear it up. There was no real record just the idea that I was finger printed by the CPD. No one who has never been stopped and frisked can fully understand what it is like and further if you are white you have less chance of ever being stopped and/or frisked than any non white. Any comment from someone who never experienced this humiliation can rationally comment on this issue.

Aug. 13 2013 12:46 PM

Bloomburg has more money so their for he has more freedom

Aug. 13 2013 11:50 AM
ALiberalInBrooklyn from Brooklyn

The idea that black men are being unfairly targeted is erroneous. High crime neighborhoods are the targets of this tactic... It just so happens that those neighborhoods are inhabited by many young black men. Is race a factor in this? Yes and No. Crime in these areas will increase.

Aug. 13 2013 08:23 AM
Marc from NYC

Is it okay to violate the Constitution just because something appears to have a desired effect? If this is the case does that mean rather than being the law of the land, the Constitution is merely a suggestion. Whether "Stop and Frisk" works or not innocent people's constitutional rights are being violated. As has been said many times, just because something is legal doesn't mean it is constitional.

Aug. 13 2013 12:24 AM
dennis sullivan

you can't continue injustice with impunity for a long time. this will save police lives in the future. without the constitution, it's only weapons and tactics. and two can play at that game

Aug. 12 2013 08:17 PM
Joe from Jersey

Searching people in the highest crime areas is unconstitutional? Wow glad I no longer live in the city.

Aug. 12 2013 03:21 PM

@john, you clearly have no idea how any of this works. Before making racist comments, you should probably read the fourth amendment, the judge's ruling, and learn more about what stop and frisk is and isn't. The police will still stop and frisk, they will always stop and frisk- it's part of policing and it's protected by law.

Aug. 12 2013 10:59 AM
Eat the rich

I agree. Eat the rich.

Aug. 12 2013 10:44 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey


Since this shooting you note took place BEFORE the ruling, why did it happen. Or can you agree that Stop and Frisk is only a marginally effective policy that is practiced far too broadly and is mostly used to intimidate you minority men?

Have you tried looking at this from the 'treat others as you would want to be treated' point-of-view and tell me that you wouldn't feel your Fourth Amendment rights had been violated if a cop stop and frisked you?

The mayor and police commissioner can *claim* that S&F is not profiling but the evidence of the racial difference in *who* is stopped shows that they are kidding themselves. How's this for a 'think twice' muzzle...If a cop stops a person with no ostensible probable cause and finds no evidence of crime, the city pays the 'stoppee' $5,000. That would slow down the abuse and compensate those who have had their rights against 'illegal search and seizure' violated.

Aug. 12 2013 10:43 AM
john from office

Funny how this decision comes down after the shooting of 4 black men in East Flatbush Brooklyn, after a house party. I guess the Judge, a white liberal, does not live in East Flatbush. The hell with the peaceful residents, lets protect the hoods and gangstas.

Liberals will never be happy till the underclass is eating the rich and middle class.

Aug. 12 2013 10:07 AM

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