Stop-and-Frisk Lawyers Grumble at NYPD
MANHATTAN (CN) - The civil rights group whose lawsuit forced New York City police to wear body cameras while making street stops complained Thursday that the city has adopted a "nontransparent, go-it-alone approach" to implementing the plan.
Darius Charney, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, represented plaintiffs challenging racial disparities in the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program. His clients won a sweeping ruling last year that put the police under the supervision of a court-appointed monitor and forced them to leave a paper trail and video footage of each stop.
Charney said in a statement Thursday that the city is violating the spirit of how the reforms were supposed to be implemented.
"The pilot project ordered by the court envisioned a collaborative process in which the city, plaintiffs and court monitor work together to develop the guidelines and procedures for how the cameras and the footage recorded on them would be used and stored," Charney said. "But it now appears that the city has made all of these important decisions implicating police officer and civilian safety and privacy entirely on its own, which is troubling for those of us who care about building trust and respect between the NYPD and the communities they police."
When the ruling came down in August 2013, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it "a very dangerous decision by a judge who doesn't understand how policing works."
Bloomberg fought the reforms, and U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, tooth and nail.
His law department's attacks on her neutrality persuaded an appeals court to oust her from the case.
Reacting to popular outrage to racial profiling, current Mayor Bill de Blasio ran on a campaign to end the city's objections to the police reforms. He announced that he would drop the city's appeal on his first month in office.
The police union tried to toss a wrench in settlement plans with a failed bid to intervene in the case.
In what appeared to be a veiled dig at de Blasio, Charney said that the city's "unilateral" approach recalls the "prior NYPD and mayoral administration."
A spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department told Courthouse News in an email that the program honors the spirit of the settlement.
"This is a pilot program being undertaken by the Police Commissioner and being done as an NYPD initiative," she wrote. "It is not part of the Floyd settlement, but it is entirely consistent with its objectives."