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Judge Cracks Down on NY's "Stop-and-Frisk"

Today's ruling finds that a key element of the controversial practice is unconstitutional.

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Police "stop and frisk" an unidentified man in
NY. Photo via

By Liam Delaney

01/08/13

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A key element of the NYPD's controversial "stop-and-frisk" tactic was ruled a violation of constitutional rights in Manhattan Federal Court this morning. Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered an "immediate cease" to the NYPD's "Clean Halls" program, which permits cops to stop and frisk residents of private buildings, known as "trespass stops," if they're given permission by the landlord. Clean Halls exists only in the Bronx and, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, has resulted in people being harassed by cops and sometimes even cuffed outside their own homes without legitimate cause. "While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," Scheindlin wrote in the ruling. As of this past July, there were 8,032 apartments enrolled in the Clean Halls program, the stated purpose of which was to improve safety in high-crime areas. "For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friend and family, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat,” wrote Scheindlin. The ruling is considered a significant victory for the many critics of stop-and-frisk, who claim the "random" stops unfairly target people of color. Of the 684,330 people stopped and interrogated by NYPD in 2011 (a 14% increase since 2010), 87% were black or Hispanic.

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