NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday called a reported plan for a federal monitor on the NYPD to address the stop-and-frisk program a great step forward.
Reports Wednesday in the New York Daily News and Post both indicated that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is asking for the judge presiding over the trial challenging the program to provide independent federal oversight for the NYPD if the program is deemed unconstitutional.
The newspapers said the U.S. Department of Justice would support the appointment of a federal monitor, who would be chosen by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin.
NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman called the reports a welcome development.
“This is a great day,” Lieberman said in a statement. “The NYCLU has for years been asking the Department of Justice to come into New York and put an end to the NYPD’s abuse of stop-and-frisk. Today’s news is welcome and long overdue.”
Proceedings for the federal civil rights trial challenging the program ended last month, and the case is now in Judge Scheindlin’s hands.
More than 5 million stops have been made in New York in the past decade, mostly of black and Hispanic men. Police must have reasonable suspicion to stop someone, a standard lower than probable cause needed to justify an arrest. Only about 10 percent result in arrests.
A plaintiff’s attorney argued last month that what the NYPD calls proactive policing is experienced by minorities as arbitrary and based on race.
Plaintiffs have said a court monitor must be appointed to facilitate changes in training, supervision and the documentation of street stops. An expert for the city testified that the department has enough checks and balances already in place.
Separately, a bill before the City Council proposes appointing an inspector general to monitor the NYPD,.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has coming out swinging against that proposal, saying it “would undermine the accountability that is so essential to the Police Department’s success in driving down crime. It could also undermine our counterterrorism efforts by making the law enforcement agencies that we work with on intelligence gathering less willing to share information with us.”
The mayor has said the stop-and-frisk program has helped keep New Yorkers safe.
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