Stop-and-Frisk Appeal Dropped, as Promised
MANHATTAN (CN) - As promised, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an agreement Thursday to have New York City police face court scrutiny related to the stop-and-frisk class action.
Toward the end of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure, critics of the NYPD's Stop, Question and Frisk program placed their hopes in a court battle before U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin.
Floyd v. City of New York, the most recent of a series of cases alleging racial profiling, ended with Scheindlin ordering police officers to wear video cameras while stopping and frisking suspects, document why they made every stop, and face the scrutiny of a court-appointed monitor on guard for racial profiling.
The 2nd Circuit put those reforms on ice, however, when it temporarily stayed the ruling and booted Scheindlin from the in October 2013.
De Blasio's landslide electoral victory the next month was seen as a mandate against income inequality and aggressive police tactics that, in the language of his campaign, turned New York into a Dickensian "tale of two cities."
On Thursday, the mayor announced a settlement of Floyd that adopts some of Scheindlin's orders and shelves others.
Under the agreement, a court-appointed monitor will supervise the NYPD for three years, and the city will "take part in a joint process with community stakeholders to ensure people affected by stop-and-frisk play an active role in shape reform," his office said in a press release.
De Blasio called the agreement a "defining moment in our history."
"It's a defining moment for millions of our families, especially those with young men of color," he said in a statement. "And it will lay the foundation for not only keeping us the safest big city in America, but making us safer still. This will be one city, where everyone's rights are respected, and where police and community stand together to confront violence."
The announcement does not mention whether police will have to wear video cameras or keep fuller documentation of each stop.
De Blasio's appointed New York City police commissioner disappointed some left-leaning critics because his choice, Bill Bratton, previously served under the administration of Rudolph Giuliani.
Bratton nevertheless struck a civil libertarian tone in his statement.
"We will not break the law to enforce the law," he said. "That's my solemn promise to every New Yorker, regardless of where they were born, where they live, or what they look like. Those values aren't at odds with keeping New Yorkers safe - they are essential to long-term public safety.
The mayor's office said that the city has asked the 2nd Circuit to remand the case back to federal court.
The Southern District of New York's docket indicates that the case has been reassigned to U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, appointed on Nov. 12, 2013, by President Barack Obama.
Once Torres confirms the resolution, the city will drop its appeal, the mayor's office said.
The announcement of an agreement falls two days before former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter takes over as head of the New York City Law Department. Carter's prosecution of the police involved in the beating of Abner Louima has also burnished his credentials of bringing change to the NYPD. Louima was the Haitian immigrant sodomized in the bathroom a Brooklyn police precinct.
New York City's Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the Rev. Al Sharpton all hailed the news. So did the presidents of four out of five New York City boroughs.
Only the Borough President James Oddo, a Republican for Staten Island, declined to deliver a statement in its support.
Oddo is currently under fire for threatening to throw a NY1 reporter off a balcony for asking about fundraising allegations surrounding Rep. Michael Grimm, a fellow Staten Island Republican.