On Aug. 12, federal district court Judge Shira Scheindlin said the U.S. Supreme Court should reconsider a 45-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision on stop-and-frisk, citing troves of evidence against the effectiveness of the policy.
Comments on Scheindlin’s ruling on the controversial NYPD policy wherein officers are permitted to detain and search anyone they find suspicious were the subject of a recent article by Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky.
“Scheindlin’s stunning 195-page opinion … should be mandatory reading for every police commissioner and police chief in the United States,” said Chemerinsky.
In the ruling, Judge Scheindlin issued several orders that she believes will improve policing in New York City.
Among the new steps, NYPD will carry out an experiment where officers would wear body cameras to record stop-and-frisk incidents. Scheindlin also mandated a series of community meetings and designated former Manhattan prosecutor Peter Zimroth as an independent monitor to oversee the process.
Scheindlin’s 195-page opinion detailed “how the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities by routinely stopping black and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white,” according to Chemerinsky.
Her statistics show that, 52 percent of people stopped-and-frisked in 4.4 million cases from January 2004 to June 2012 were black. Thirty-one percent of those stopped were Hispanic and 10 percent were white. According to a police forms database, “at least 200,000 were made without reasonable suspicion,” Scheindlin reported.
In Scheindlin’s opinion, “routinely stopping blacks and Hispanics is nothing unique.” However, statistics showing that “weapons were seized in 1 percent of the stops of blacks; 1.1 percent of the stops of Hispanics; and 1.4 percent of the stops of whites,” hardly justify the ratio of arrests, according to Chemerinsky.
University of California, Berkeley School of Law professor Franklin Zimring conducted a study concluding that reductions in “crime in (New York) was not linked to the stop-and-frisk policy, but rather reflected a national reduction in crime and other law enforcement efforts of the NYPD.”
Chemerinsky draws parallels between his own 2000 examination of a Los Angeles Police Department race-based scandal involving incidents of police planting drugs on innocent people to gain convictions, saying the LAPD misconduct bares remarkable similarity to those Scheindlin points out among the NYPD.
“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” Scheindlin said.