News & Politics

Judge Rules NYPD Stop and Frisk Unconstitutional, Appoints Federal Monitor

Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York Police Department systematically stopped innocent people and that their stop and frisk policy violated the Constitution.


A federal judge in New York City ruled today that the police department’s policy of stopping, frisking and questioning people on the street is unconstitutional. Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) tactic known as stop and frisk has violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Scheindlin’s ruling said that NYPD employees have systematically stopped innocent people on the street. Scheindlin has also announced that an outside lawyer will be designated to oversee reforms aimed at making sure the police comply with the Constitution. The judge said that the city had adopted a policy of racial profiling, and that officers had deemed innocent behavior as suspicious too often.

The ruling is the conclusion of a two-month long federal trial on the city’s stop and frisk policy, which disproportionately impacts young Black and Latino men. The lawsuit, known as Floyd v. City of New York, was brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Stop and frisk has become a hot-button issue in New York City, and is a major point of debate in the city’s mayoral race. The Bloomberg administration has overseen a rise in the number of stop and frisks to much criticism. 90 percent of those stopped and frisked are minorities, while nearly 9 out of ten of those stopped are innocent.


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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