A judge has been challenged to order wide-reaching reforms for the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Stop and Frisk program by a watchdog group that filed a brief in federal court on Monday. The filing came after the racist practice was deemed unconstitutional and yielded previous lawsuits.
Questions have arisen as to whether NYPD officers have followed legal rules in stopping and questioning people on the street. The history and data about the city’s stop-and-frisk policy is troubling: Numbers reached an all-time high with 684,000 people being subjected to interrogations in 2011. The number of stops-and-frisks had since decreased to less than 10,000 last year.
Stop-and-frisk practices, known to target African-Americans and Latinos at disproportionate rates, must be addressed, said Communities United For Police Reform, which filed the brief. Reforms could force officers to be completely transparent in informing individuals subjected to non-stop-and-frisk stops that they were free to walk away. The NYPD may also be mandated to tell the public about the discipline of officers who engage in abusive or unconstitutional stops, The Associated Press reported.
An ongoing, independent community board to assess NYPD compliance with the court decision was also needed, activists said.
The NYPD was also being challenged for not reporting all the stops made by officers. The department has only kept records for the stop-and-frisk category, excluding other stops.
Perhaps the biggest question was whether needed reforms will really change things. The judge will have to agree with the activists for reforms to become a reality, and the NYPD will then have to cooperate with any court-mandated changes to their practices.