Citizens Can Now Sue NYPD Over Stop-And-Frisks
The New York City Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” policy has been controversial since it began with many civil rights organizations say the policy unfairly targets minority men, especially young African-American males. And now victims of unjust “stop-and-frisks” can sue the police.
The NYPD had tried to stop this from happening, but in a recent decision State Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh upheld the Community Safety Act passed by the City Council last year making it easier for citizens to sue the NYPD for racial profiling. And the Manhattan judge also rejected a request from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association to issue an injunction against the measure, reports The New York Daily News.
Minorities were stopped disproportionately and 90 percent of the stops did not end in an arrest.
“Local Law 71 does not prevent police officers from continuing to stop, question and frisk while utilizing their training and experience,” Singh wrote in a 35-page decision.
“The law only seeks to deter the use of attributes such as race as the sole basis for an investigatory stop which is antithetical to our constitution and values,” the judge continued.
According to New York Civil Liberties Union president Donna Lieberman, this decision will not only help citizens but also the police as well.
“It is a victory for all New Yorkers, including the police, because it is building trust and respect between officers and the communities they serve,” she noted.
“This law provides an important opportunity for New Yorkers who are subject to racial profiling or other discriminatory behavior the opportunity to vindicate their rights,” she added.
Even Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the City Council measure, unlike former mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had sided with the unions in trying to fight it.
But PBA president Pat Lynch said his organization would appeal the ruling.
“This law sends an extremely bad message to our police officers who will see themselves in legal crosshairs with every arrest they make. Potentially, this bad law can have a very serious impact on public safety,” Lynch said.
But Singh disagrees. “The City Council passed Local Law 71 to address a local concern relating to civil rights and police activities. The law does not prohibit or restrict the right of a police officer to make a stop … Rather it addresses the consequences of biased-based profiling by law enforcement personnel,” Singh wrote.