NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly sounded off on a judge’s ruling Monday that said the NYPD deliberately violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers with its stop-and-frisk policy.
Bloomberg vowed to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin’s decision, saying the judge displayed a “disturbing disregard” for the “good intentions” of police officers.
“It was pretty clear from the start which way it would turn out,” Bloomberg said at a news conference. “Throughout the case, we didn’t believe we were getting a fair trial and this decision confirms this suspicion and we will be presenting evidence to the appeals court.”
Bloomberg and other officials have credited the policy in part for a pronounced drop in the homicide rate. The city averages one homicide a day currently, compared with six in 1990.
“This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works,” Bloomberg added. “We believe we have done exactly what the courts allow and we will continue to do everything we can to keep this city safe. Crime can come back any time. The criminals think that they’re going to get away with things.”
Kelly was equally miffed.
“What I find most disturbing and offensive about this decision is the notion that the NYPD engages in racial profiling. That is simply recklessly untrue. We do not engage in racial profiling. It is prohibited by law. It is prohibited by our own regulations,” Kelly said.
“We train our officers that they need reasonable suspicion to make a stop and I can assure you that race is never a reason to conduct a stop. The NYPD is the most racially and ethnically diverse police department in the world,” Kelly added.
In a lengthy opinion, Scheindlin wrote the city is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. She also found violations with the Fourteenth Amendment.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, Judge Scheindlin ruled that the stop-and-frisk policy amounts to “indirect racial profiling,” in which “minorities are indeed treated differently than whites,” and, “officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.”
“Far too many people in New York City have been deprived of this basic freedom far too often,” she said. “The NYPD’s practice of making stops that lack individualized reasonable suspicion has been so pervasive and persistent as to become not only a part of the NYPD’s standard operating procedure, but a fact of daily life in some New York City neighborhoods.”
Scheindlin also accused the police department’s senior officials of violating law “through their deliberate indifference to unconstitutional stops, frisks and searches.”
“They have received both actual and constructive notice since at least 1999 of widespread Fourth Amendment violations occurring as a result of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices,” she wrote. “Despite this notice, they deliberately maintained and even escalated policies and practices that predictably resulted in even more widespread Fourth Amendment violations.”
She said through paperwork alone, she determined at least 200,000 stops were made without reasonable suspicion, the necessary legal benchmark, lower than the standard of probable cause needed to justify an arrest.
“The city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” she wrote. “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting ‘the right people’ is racially discriminatory.”