Eight years after a judge ruled New York City police violated the constitution by stopping, questioning and frisking mostly Black and Hispanic people on the street en masse, people in communities most affected by such tactics say they've been shut out of the legal process to end them. Lawyers for plaintiffs in two landmark stop-and-frisk lawsuits said in court papers Thursday that community stakeholders have had “very little contact” in the last three years with the court-appointed monitor overseeing reforms and that reports he's issued don't reflect their experiences.
Stop and Frisk
In a banner day for police reform, the city of Milwaukee has entered into a settlement agreement to end practices amounting to a decade-long stop-and-frisk program that resulted in hundreds of thousands of baseless stops as well as racial and ethnic profiling of Black and Latino people citywide. The agreement provides a roadmap for how the Milwaukee Police Department and Fire and Police Commission must reform to protect the constitutional rights of the people they serve. The reforms are local, but the implications are national. This settlement sends a signal to police departments across the country about how to remedy stop-and-frisk practices that wrongfully criminalize people of color. The reforms in Milwaukee are the result of the settlement of Collins v. City of Milwaukee, a 2017 lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP on behalf of Black and Latino people, including a military veteran, a grandmother, students, and a state legislator.
By Natasha Noman for Mic - The controversial stop-and-frisk policy instituted by the New York Police Department in 1999 allowed law enforcement to stop any civilian on the street and search their person and belongings. The practice is "allegedly based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity," the Center for Constitutional Rights explains. There are just a few problems with that premise: The practice has proven to be racially motivated, ineffective and unconstitutional.
By Joseph Ax for Reuters - Police in Newark, New Jersey, will institute sweeping reforms to resolve allegations of widespread civil-rights violations under the supervision of a federal monitor, U.S. and city officials announced on Wednesday. The changes will settle allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that the police department in New Jersey's largest city engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional practices that targeted black residents for unwarranted street stops, used excessive force and stole residents' property.
By Margaret Paulson for Chicagoist - The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Chicago Police Department have struck an agreement to have an independent monitor evaluate the controversial #8220;stop and frisk” policy. The agreement, announced Friday, appoints independent consultant Arlander Keys, a former U.S. magistrate, to issue twice-yearly public reports on “stop and frisk” and suggest policy changes to the Chicago Police Department. In addition, Chicago police will now be required to collect data on and track information on all street stops and to note when pat-downs (“frisks”) are employed, and why. Previously, the police were only required to collect data on street stops but were not required to report if they frisked the person. Additionally, if arrests were made, officers weren’t required to record that data.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania and the law firm of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, LLP, filed a report today as part of the monitoring process of the 2011 consent decree in Bailey v. Philadelphia, a lawsuit filed in 2010 alleging that Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) officers had a pattern and practice of stopping and frisking pedestrians without reasonable suspicion that the person was involved in criminal activity and disproportionately stopping African-Americans. Today’s report shows that despite having almost four years to improve its stop and frisk practices, the PPD continues to illegally stop and frisk tens of thousands of individuals. Today’s report is the fifth filed with the court and court-appointed monitor since the consent decree was put in place. According to the report, 37 percent of the over 200,000 pedestrian stops in 2014 were made without reasonable suspicion, and thus a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Of the frisks, only 47 percent were made based on reasonable suspicion.
Some call it "stop-and-frisk by another name." Others say it's an excuse for cops to up the number of outstanding arrest warrants. But the facts in a recent CUNY Law School study show that from 2008 to 2011, the New York City Police Department issued more tickets in minority than in other neighborhoods to cyclists who rode their bikes on the sidewalk. Of the 15 neighborhoods with the greatest number of summonses for the crime of bicycling on the sidewalk, 12 consist mainly of blacks and Latinos. The research was coordinated by City University of New York sociology professor Harry Levine and members of his Marijuana Arrest Research Project, a program that keeps track of victimless crimes in large U.S. cities, and NYC in particular. The neighborhood with the highest number of bicycle-on-sidewalk summonses was Bedford-Stuyvesant (West) in Brooklyn, which averaged 2,050 per year. The area's population numbers about 90,000 and is 79 percent black and Latino.
A new study suggests that aggressive policing likely has an adverse effect on the mental health of young men in New York City -- particularly young men who are black. The study, released Thursday by the American Journal of Public Health, appears to show higher rates of feelings of stress, anxiety and trauma in young men who experienced multiple or intrusive stop and frisk encounters with police than among young men who had fewer or no such encounters. "Our findings suggest that proactive policing tactics have the potential to negatively impact the relationship between the community and police, as well as the mental health and well-being of community members," Amanda Geller, a professor at New York University and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
People protested. People marched. A good cop who blew the whistle ended up thrown in a mental hospital. Mayor Bloomberg refused to back down. Civil liberties and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit. The stop-and-frisk numbers started falling, finally, while the lawsuit moved forward. The judge then ruled the program unconstitutional. The next mayoral campaign turned on one candidate's vocal rejection of stop-and-frisk. The good guys won. Don't ever let anyone tell you that activism doesn't matter. Stop-and-frisk numbers are down 90 percent in New York City from the peak in early 2012. Ninety percent. In Harlem, they are down 96 percent in the same period.