Federal Judge Declares NYPD "Stop-and-Frisk" Policy Unconstitutional
LESTER HOLT, anchor:
Tonight a federal judge has come down hard in one of the most controversial police tactics in the country. Ordering changes to New York City’s so-called stop and frisk policy. The judge said it unfairly targets large numbers of minorities stopped by police without any good reason to suspect them of a crime, but supporters say it’s an important crime-fighting tool that has brought violent crime down to historic lows. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk is in Times Square tonight for us with more. Stephanie, good evening.
STEPHANIE GOSK reporting:
Good evening, Lester. Well, crime continues to drop here in New York City, including here in Times Square. Mayor Bloomberg says one of the keys to their success is this policy of stop and frisk. But what he calls good policing, other people are calling racial profiling and those people today won a big legal victory.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city of New York has become the poster child for fighting crime.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R – New York, NY): Today we have fewer guns, fewer shootings, and fewer homicides.
GOSK: But today, a federal judge called the NYPD’s policy of stop, question, and frisk unconstitutional. The practice allows police officers to stop and search anyone acting suspiciously. In a nearly two-hundred-page decision the judge says the city adopted a policy of "indirect racial profiling." "Those who are routinely subjected to stops are overwhelmingly people of color and they are justifiably troubled to be singled out." Statistics presented in court showed that between 2004 and 2012, there were 4.43 million stops. Fifty-two percent were black suspects; thirty-one percent were Hispanic. But the city argued during the trial that those numbers are a reflection of crime statistics, not racial profiling.
RAY KELLY (New York City Police Commissioner): We do not engage in racial profiling. It is prohibited by law and it is prohibited by our own regulations.
GOSK: The ruling not outlaw stop and frisk altogether but it calls for a number of changes including an independent monitor of the NYPD and a requirement that some officers wear video cameras to record stops. Critics of stop and frisk still want it banned. Joy-Ann Reid is the managing editor of NBC’s thegrio.com.
JOY-ANN REID: People that we’ve talked to at the Grio, who've reported being stopped and frisked, reported a feeling of humiliation, a feeling of almost being an alien in your own community, a feeling of being an eternal suspect always suspected of being a criminal.
GOSK: Bloomberg is not backing down from the fight.
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: The public are not experts at policing. Personally, I would rather have Ray Kelly decide how to keep my family safe.
GOSK: Mayor Bloomberg says he did not get a fair trial with this judge and they’re going to appeal. And you can bet mayors all across this country will be watching that case very closely. Lester.
HOLT: Stephanie Gosk in Times Square tonight. Thanks.