Feds Expected to Back Monitor of NY Police

     (CN) – With a federal judge expected to order sweeping reforms to the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, the Justice Department reportedly plans to intervene.
     Trial completed in late May in the case of Floyd v. The City of New York, a class action to determine whether the NYPD’s stop, question and frisk tactic unconstitutionally targets blacks and Latinos.
     Under the Supreme Court’s decision in Terry v. Ohio, police cannot stop and search a suspect without reasonable suspicion that he is about to commit, is committing or has committed a crime.
     But the court heard NYPD data, memorialized on so-called “UF-250” forms, suggesting that street stops correspond more closely with race than criminal suspicion.
     Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Fagan’s study of those forms indicated that roughly 87 percent of the roughly 5 million people who have been stopped were black or Latino. Police seized guns in only 0.15 percent of all stops, and found “contraband” in general in 1.75 percent of all stops.
     Lawyers for the stop-and-frisk challengers noted that this “hit rate” was lower than in the case of a car random checkpoint protested in Indianapolis v. Edmonds, in which police seized drugs in 5 percent of all vehicles.
     U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who heard Floyd without a jury, has not indicated how she will rule, but observers expect the civil libertarian judge to appoint a monitor to oversee the NYPD.
     The Center for Constitutional Rights, representing the Floyd plaintiffs, welcomed the Justice Department’s expected support of such a measure, first reported by the New York Daily News.
     “The DOJ has put in place similar agreements with other cases alleging widespread unconstitutional policing practices,” the rights group said in a statement. “It is high time the city of New York and its police department stop their obstinate non-compliance with the law and accept that the kind of significant change necessary to fix the problems with the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices will require outside monitoring.”
     The parties filed post-trial submissions on Wednesday.

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