*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
May 17, 2012
Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis at (212) 788-7081
Council Members Letitia James and Melissa Mark-Viverito Urge City Not To Appeal Federal Lawsuit Regarding Stop-And-Frisk
(New York, NY)— On May 16, 2012, a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, saying she was disturbed by the “deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.”
In 2011, the statistics showed that 87% of the NYPD’s almost 700,000 stop-and-frisks involved Black and Latino persons; only 12% of those stops resulted in arrests, and less than 1% of those stops resulted in an arrest for weapon possession or an otherwise violent crime. Council Member Letitia James has joined many of her colleagues in criticizing the stop-and-frisk policy as one that forges distrust between the department and minority communities.
The NYPD recently disclosed that there have been more than 200,000 stops from January to March of 2012, a number that would exceed previous records if it were to hold steady. The administration had previously taken the position that a court-ordered injunction banning stop-and-frisk would constitute “judicial intrusion”, a position the federal judge strongly disagreed with (calling the City’s attitude about the policy “cavalier”).
“The fact that the NYPD has made some recent reforms, including more training for cops and closer scrutiny from supervisors, would suggest that they recognize that abusive stop-and-frisk policies have no place in a civil society,” said Council Member Letitia James. “These changes are a step in the right direction, but do not go far enough; although they may negate the need for an appeal.”
“We urge the City not to waste precious taxpayer dollars to defend its out-of-control stop and frisk agenda,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We are not calling for softer policing, but smarter and more effective policing; and stop and frisk has been shown to be an ineffective, wasteful policy. On top of the social costs of damaged police-community relations, we are now facing the fiscal costs of legal challenges against the NYPD for its practices. This week’s court decision was clear: these suspicionless stops are unconstitutional and those who have suffered the humiliation that comes with being stopped and frisked deserve to seek legal recourse as a class. As we seek to enact measures that will strengthen oversight over the police in our city, the courts stand as an important vehicle to hold the NYPD accountable. The City should not be obstructing efforts by plaintiffs to challenge the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices.”
In April 2012, multiple media sources reported that a “working group” has been formed inside New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, with the purpose of reviewing the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) stop-and-frisk policy. Council Member James has further urged Mayor Bloomberg to appoint an independent commission to investigate corruption within the NYPD, and relocate the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau to the NYC Department of Investigations.