Federal Judge: NYC Stop And Frisk Violates The 4th Amendment

from the yeah,-no-kidding dept

For anyone who might not know already, New York City's infamous stop and frisk program is the completely useless policy of the police department to go around randomly molesting anyone they deem to be suspicious, or more correctly described as brown-skinned. It appears that everyone who isn't a member of the NYPD or the current mayor of New York hates this program as much as I do, including AG Eric Holder and the NY City Council. Still, that didn't keep Chuck Schumer from trying to export this interracial softcore porn policy to the federal level by recommending Police Chief Ray Kelly as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly's resume, however, may take a bit of a hit.

That's because a federal judge recently declared that the stop and frisk program violated tens of thousands of people's constitutional rights, which is the kind of thing that most folks frown on.

In a decision issued on Monday, the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. Officers often frisked these people, usually young minority men, for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband, like drugs, before letting them go, according to the 195-page decision.

These stop-and-frisk episodes, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment.
Now, it's worth noting that Scheindlin didn't order that the program be stopped immediately or set a time and date for Mayor Bloomberg's lobotomy, which I found disappointing, but instead has appointed an outside legal counsel to oversee the police department and ensure that any random stopping and frisking of citizens is done constitutionally. That means no stops without reasonable suspicion. The problem, however, has been how police officers thus far have fudged their own reports on why they were stopping people.
While the Supreme Court has long recognized the right of police officers to briefly stop and investigate people who are behaving suspiciously, Judge Scheindlin found that the New York police had overstepped that authority. She found that officers were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop.
Obviously no outside legal overseer is going to be able to witness any sizable number of these stops, meaning there is a high likelihood that officers will continue to manufacture suspicion that is unfounded. In addition, it's well known that police officers consider themselves members of a fraternal organization, with all of the implications such a membership carries with it. How accurate a picture this outside counsel will get of these stops moving forward is an open question with a likely problematic answer.

That's why, while we should all be pleased that Judge Scheindlin ruled against stop and frisk, I think it would have been far better to scrap it entirely and make police play by the rules that are already prescribed by our constitution.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Oh please, Mike, you hope for too much.

    We're just peons. Our lords and masters are gracious enough to allow us to live. Why, if they killed us, we should be THANKFUL that they did so, because they have decided, in their elite, superior wisdom, that we would be better off serving the planet as fertilizer or something like that.

    I mean, they get their own brand of justice, where they can violate every law known to man, and not serve any time in prison or pay any fines, while the rest of us are forced to pay for their crimes like normal people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:33pm


    Sorry, Tim, didn't see that you posted this article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    High court vs. Low court

    So a judge finds them to have violated the people's constitutional rights thousands of times over the past years, and rather than actually doing anything real to stop it, merely assigns someone to provide 'oversight' to hopefully keep them from doing it again.

    And of course given they've received nothing more serious than a 'And don't let me catch you doing it again!' from the judge, what reason exactly do they have not to just ignore the 'oversight' person/group and carry on as normal? After all if this ruling is anything to go by, at most they could expect a stern warning, maybe a strongly written admonishment, but noting actually serious.

    Amazing what you can get away with when you've got enough power...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re:

    "Sorry, Tim, didn't see that you posted this article."

    Apology not accepted. You'll be the first to be rounded up upon my ascendancy to Kingship Overlord Of The American People's Republik....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Don't you mean the Democratic Republic of Sovereign America?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Lord Binky, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    I feel like all they will do now is roll a dice to decide which of their 6 favorite 'suspicions' to add to their report.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Andrew Lee (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:04pm

    They really need to end the stop-&-molest program.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    DCX2, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Here are some facts for the people who might want the numbers. These statistics are a little old, being from 2009, but they paint a pretty good picture.

    575,000 people were stopped in NYC in 2009, and of those 325,000 people were subsequently frisked. Approximately 250,000 of these searches turned up precisely nothing - a quarter million innocent people, stopped and frisked. About 64,000 people were arrested or issued a summons, indicating a false positive rate for stops of 89%.

    The racial breakdown in NYC is about 47% white, 27% latino, 26% black. The racial breakdown of those who were stopped was 9% white, 31% latino, 53% black. So while whites are one out of every two people in NYC, they are one out of every ten stops. Oh yeah, 92% of those stopped are male.

    But here's the real kicker. This racial profiling is ostensibly okay because it's the minorities who have all the drugs and weapons, right? But as it turns out, 2.4% of whites stopped have drugs or weapons, versus about 1.8% of blacks and latinos stopped.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:14pm


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:46pm


    Good Lord, I'm so hard up right now, I just might go to NY just to get felt up by the police.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    'make police play by the rules that are already prescribed by our constitution' and then extend it so people taking pictures 90+yds from any police officer and not interfering with what they are doing can do so without being arrested!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    RD, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, he means the Democratic Republik of the American Homeland. (see related article posted today)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:13pm


    Well, as long as the people are willing to put up with it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    gorehound (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    AS I said elsewhere I am now hoping that people are able to Sue NYPD and those who are responsible for the BS Stop & Frisk.
    NYC How you like your NANNY MAYOR A-Hole !

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    LivingInNavarre (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

    Constitution only

    The part I found most interesting was a story that stated the judge ONLY looked at the Constitutionality of the policy...even though she does go on to mention that 88% of the stops resulted in releasing the individual with no further action.

    To add to the popcorn debate Schumer was furious that they didn't get a fair hearing in front of the judge.

    I know I should insert some witty remark about pots, kettles and black but it's not worth the effort.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    If you really think a court's order will stop the way police officers think, are trained, and are ordered... you probably deserve to go get frisked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Yeah no fucking kidding is right. How anybody ever didn't think this was unconstitutional is beyond me. Everyone involved in implementing it should be fired and prosecuted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    Re: High court vs. Low court

    We're all just inmates in this jail called America. This is a token nod of public servant accountability to the public in order to keep the masses calm when it comes time to take this nationwide when Ray Kelly or his twin under another name takes over Homeland Security. They'll use this "oversight" as a talking point and hype its effectiveness way beyond the realm of reality to keep the masses from organizing in their outrage, in the slow yet steady erosion of pretense that we still live in a free and civil society. This is the same playbook as the NSA spying scandal's supporters work from. A part of the same effort to usher in the golden age of totalitarianism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I pictured Laharl from Disgaea saying that then laughing in an evil way and laughed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    M.I.B. contrast

    When I think of the characters in favor of the stop and frisk policy, I can't help but think of the firing range test in M.I.B. Of course, that movie was pure fantasy, not because of the aliens and stuff but because it portrayed the NYPD cop as actually being the one character to think things through and NOT take preemptive action against most of the suspicious looking characters.

    What a contrast.

    Unfortunately, the bottom line today for most of the NYPD and their chain of command is summed up in this quote: "Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Pio Szamel, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    verifying police allegations with body-cams

    I def agree that police reports often have a, uh, questionable relationship with the facts, but it's worth noting that the judge does at least propose a pilot program aimed at that problem: cops in a few precincts will be outfitted with cameras on their uniforms to record their interactions, providing something their allegations can be checked against. The police department is raising hell about this of course, but if it survives the inevitable appeal it could be interesting to see how it affects police behavior...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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