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‘Stop and frisk’: why a judge ruled the New York tactic unconstitutional (+video)

The judge in the stop-and-frisk decision also appointed an independent monitor to ensure that the New York Police Department’s practices would be in line with constitutional standards in the future.

A U.S. judge has appointed a monitor to oversee New York City's controversial stop-and-search policy, saying it intentionally discriminates based on race and has violated the rights of tens of thousands of people.
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In a blow to the administration of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a federal judge declared on Monday that the city’s long-contentious police tactic known as “stop and frisk” violated the constitutional rights of perhaps millions of citizens.

The judge, Shira Scheindlin of the US District Court in Manhattan, also appointed an independent monitor to ensure that the practices of the New York Police Department (NYPD) would be in line with constitutional standards in the future – the remedy preferred by the Obama administration.

The decision represents two major setbacks to Mayor Bloomberg and police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the most vigorous defenders of the practice, in which officers flood high-crime neighborhoods and then stop and sometimes frisk anyone they believe may be involved in criminal activity. The mayor and Mr. Kelly had not only insisted the tactic passed constitutional muster, but they also bitterly opposed any kind of outside oversight of the city’s police.

Judge Scheindlin, appointed by President Clinton in 1994, found the city’s practices did not meet the “reasonable suspicion” standard set by the US Supreme Court, which allows police to stop people if they believe criminal activity “may be afoot.” This is a lower standard than “probable cause,” the most well-known standard in the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

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