Police Union Out of Stop-and-Frisk Case
MANHATTAN (CN) -The New York City Police Department's union cannot intervene in a settlement reforming stop-and-frisk policies found to discriminate against blacks and Latinos in a landmark ruling last year, a federal judge said in a pair of rulings on Wednesday.
Darius Charney, an attorney that represented the policy's challengers for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that the ruling "sets us on the road to beginning a joint reform process that fully engages the community and will bring true accountability to the NYPD.
"For too long, communities of color have felt under siege by the police, and young Black and Latino men have disproportionately been the target," Charney said. "Now community groups, faith leaders, unions, and other stakeholders can come to the table and work collaboratively to create a city in which the rights of all New Yorkers are protected."
His organization has spent more than a decade challenging racial disparities in street stops, most recently in the case Floyd v. City of New York.
Statistics from Columbia University professor Jeffrey Fagan show that the roughly 80 percent of the 4.4 million stops made between 2004 and 2012 targeted black and Latino New Yorkers and visitors.
Last year, U.S. District Judge Shira Schiendlin issued an order forcing police officers to wear video cameras while stopping and frisking people, document why they made every stop, and face the scrutiny of a court-appointed monitor.
Shortly after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio entered office, he honored his campaign promise to drop an appeal over the decision and by announcing a settlement with the challengers that agreed upon modified terms of that decision.
The parties hoped to implement their agreement by asking a federal judge to accept the changed terms.
New York City's Police Benevelent tried to put up a roadblock in those discussions with a motion to intervene in the case.
U.S. District Judge Annalisa Torres, who replaced Scheindlin after she was recused, refused to let the union elbow their way into the case and accepted the proposed modifications in two decisions totaling 110 pages.
The rulings also specify the terms of the city's settlement over the related case, Ligon v. City of New York, related to stops in private buildings in the Bronx.
Jonathan Moore, who represented the plaintiffs of Floyd, called for the police union to "stand down from their attempt to delay the implementation of meaningful reforms that the courts and the people of New York proved are necessary."
The Police Benevolent Association's president Patrick Lynch indicated that the organization would appeal to the 2nd Circuit.
In a comment that appeared to be an unsubtle dig at Mayor de Blasio, Lynch added that the settlement was reached between "interests that became allied after the recent election with no party representing the interests of the employees who will be most impacted."
Center for Constitutional Rights legal director Baher Azmy responded in a phone interview by calling the union's decision to appeal "meritless" and "another obstacle in front of critically needed reforms contrary to the interests of the city and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers."
Mayor de Blasio called the court's decision "a major step in our efforts to repair police-community relations," in a statement.
"We remain committed to ensuring that every New Yorker is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, while also creating more effective policing that will keep our neighborhoods and those who protect them safe," he wrote.
The reforms reached in the settlement will take place when, and if, the 2nd Circuit agrees to let the city dismiss the appeal lodged under the Bloomberg administration.