NYC to Drop Stop-and-Frisk Appeal, Will Carry Out Reforms

By Brett Snider, Esq. on January 30, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New York City no longer plans to appeal the "stop-and-frisk" ruling handed down by a federal judge last summer, opting instead to carry out reforms.

As this issue had been a plank in Mayor Bill de Blasio's campaign, the new mayor -- who's been in office for less than a month -- spoke Thursday about his administration taking a "major step toward resolving the polarizing dispute" surrounding the police custom, The New York Times reports.

With NYC's fight over stop-and-frisk coming to an end, what changes are now being promised?

Judge Shira Scheindlin had ruled in August that the NYPD's long history of "stop-and-frisk" searches violated suspects' constitutional rights. Specifically, Judge Scheindlin found in Floyd v. City of New York that NYPD officers had used these unconstitutional tactics disproportionately on blacks and Hispanics.

New York's previous mayor, Michael Bloomberg, vowed to appeal Judge Scheindlin's decision. The city was successful in getting the ruling stayed and Judge Scheindlin removed from the case for bias.

As things stood, the case was still pending before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But the city is now asking the 2nd Circuit to remand the case to the district court.

Plans for NYPD Reforms

According to the Times, Judge Scheindlin had appointed a federal monitor, Peter L. Zimroth, to ensure that "immediate reforms" of the NYPD's policies and training on stop-and-frisk were carried out.

In her opinion, Judge Scheindlin had suggested the following reforms for Zimroth to work out with the NYPD:

  • Change how the NYPD documents stop-and-frisks;
  • Clarify training materials to prevent illegal searches and/or racial profiling;
  • Improve the system of officer monitoring, supervision, and discipline; and
  • Transmit an internal message (called a "FINEST message") to NYPD officers explaining the consequences of Judge Scheindlin's ruling (see an example here of a prior message regarding relations between officers and the media).

Under the agreement between NYC and the plaintiffs, the court-appointed monitor will serve for three years. Once the district court confirms this arrangement, "the city will immediately move to withdraw its appeal," a Mayor's Office press release states.

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