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Expert: Body-Worn Video Would Usher In New Approach To Stop And Frisk

Says Technology May Go A Long Way Toward Making Both Sides Accountable

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A blockbuster ruling from a federal judge will not mean the end of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program.

But one way or another, it likely will mean changes for the controversial police practice, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Tuesday.

The changes could be in tone — with a new mayor taking office soon – and perhaps in tactics for future stops. In addition, even new technology to monitor what goes down during a stop and frisk could play a big role.

Several U.S. departments are testing body-worn video — a camera to capture a record of encounters between police and the public.

Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the NYPD to test body-worn video to help a court-appointed monitor better understand conflicting claims about stop and frisk.

“She’s having to determine what’s actually happened based on people’s factual recitation of what happened. So she’s saying, look, if we had body-worn cameras it would really solve some of the problems,” said Sunita Patel of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, scoffed at the judge’s call for cameras on cops.

“It would be a nightmare,” the mayor said Monday.

But an expert who has studied body-worn video said he is a believer.

“It got people to behave better in front of them. They knew they were being recorded. And it often backed up police in situations in which civilians had lodged complaints against them,” said Professor David Harris of the University of Pittsburgh.

Harris said the stop-and-frisk ruling is being scrutinized across the country. Many police departments use the tactic to fight crime, and in places like New York City, debates have followed.

“It helps us as citizens to walk the streets and know that we’re safe now,” one man in Harlem told CBS 2’s Lou Young on Monday night.

“It, personally, makes me feel intimidated,” a woman said.

Meanwhile, opponents of stop-and-frisk rallied on the City Hall steps Tuesday, and Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-45th) said the judge’s ruling “validates our crusade against that policy.”

“The only people who are trying to handcuff our police and are causing mass-hysteria are Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly, and the police unions with their continued lies and misinformation,” Williams said.

Williams and other council members said next week, they will override the mayor’s veto of a bill creating an inspector general for the NYPD.

Philadelphia and other departments have settled lawsuits claiming stop and frisk led to racial profiling.

Bloomberg said he will fight back against the court ruling, but his successor may change direction.

“Nobody’s going to get rid of stop and frisk. It’s here to stay. It’s been around for decades. What will change is policy, training, supervision, and the way this is done in the field, whether it is emphasized to the exclusion of other things,” Harris said.

The mayor said the NYPD does not racially profile and insists stop and frisk has saved thousands of lives. The department is expected to continue using the tactic during the appeals process.

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