NYC “Stop and Frisk” Policy Ruled Unconstitutional

U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” policy unconstitutional in an August 12 decision.

According to city officials, police stops have helped sharply curb major crimes in New York, including murders. But Scheindlin ruled that the policy violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

About 83 percent of all stops between 2004 and 2012 involved blacks and Hispanics, although only about half of the city’s residents fall into these two groups.

Under a 1968 Supreme Court decision, Terry v. Ohio, stopping and frisking is not inherently unconstitutional. It is allowed under certain conditions. Scheindlin directed the city to impose new limits on the policy, including establishing a pilot program where some police officers will wear cameras to record such stops. The ruling also directs the city to solicit public comments on how to reform its tactics.

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