A federal judge ruled that the contentious NYPD tactic known as stop-and-frisk violates constitutional rights, appointing a monitor to oversee reforms and ordering the department to test body cameras for officers.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote in the opinion released Monday that she was not ordering an end to the practice, but was seeking to provide remedies "to ensure that the practice is carried out in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much-needed police protection."
One short-term order she did issue was to require the NYPD to test "body-worn cameras" for officers. She said the practice has potential, and said the department must begin a pilot program with cameras on patrol officers in one precinct per borough. The city must fund the project, she said.
"Furtive movements," a reason cited in some NYPD stops, is not sufficient, nor is simply being present in a "high crime area," the judge wrote.
"Officers must cease the targeting of young black and Hispanic males for stops based on the appearance of these groups in crime complaints," she said.
The judge also addressed what would justify proceeding from a stop to a frisk, declaring that the officer has to suspect the person may be "armed and dangerous." A frisk, she said, is not to discover evidence of a crime, but to uncover potential weapons that could injure police.
The monitor will develop reforms "as soon as practicable," and will report to the court for approval. He will then be responsible, the judge said, to conduct compliance and progress reviews, and will issue public reports every six months. The city will be responsible for the costs of the monitor, his staff and any experts he uses.
The ruling came after more than nine weeks of testimony from men who said they were wrongly stopped because of their race, and police officials who believe the nation's largest force operates with integrity.