- NYPD has been systematically violating citizens’ rights for years
Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin has ruled that New York City police have been illegally detaining and searching people for several years running. Stop and frisk searches are permissible under certain circumstances, known as Terry stops, but the law requires that officers has a reasonable belief that a crime has been, or is about to be committed. The judge ruled that officers have been stopping people with no lawful reason, violating their constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. What makes the policy more appalling is that the City’s policy frequently targeted minorities, making the unlawful stops based on racial discrimination.
Judge Scheindlin noted that in 88 percent of the stops, the individuals were released without so much as a ticket. According to her, such a high percentage suggests that there was not a credible suspicion in the first place. If a baseball player only has a .12o batting average, he wouldn’t be playing baseball very long. Since these stops are supposed to be predicated by a founded suspicion, you would expect the percentage of discovered infractions to be very high. The double concern is not only that thousands of innocent people’s rights are being violated by the officers who are supposed to protect and serve them, but that by targeting minorities, and young men in particular, they further alienate these demographics from trusting the police. The NYPD policy has been proven to be practicing unlawful policies in court, and it is a shame.
The mayor has argued that the policy has led to a reduction of the crime rate. First, the causation has not been proven. Second, the results are legally irrelevant. Finally, is it worth catching a few more kids with weed to violate our citizens’ rights on a regular basis? Is it worth alienating a generation against the NYPD? Aren’t the underlying Constitutional Rights worth protecting? Yes they are, and this was a brave, correct decision by the court. Congrats to the attorneys who fought so hard to prove this case.