New York City's new Mayor Bill DeBlasio just took his first steps toward reforming stop-and-frisk. De Blasio announced Monday the city plans to drop its appeal of a federal court ruling that deemed the practice unconstitutional.
"We believe in respecting every New Yorker's rights, regardless of what neighborhood they live in or the color of their skin. ... What we are doing here today will increase the quality of policing in New York City." (Via New York 1)
The NYPD's policy of stopping and searching citizens has been heavily criticized for disproportionately targeting young black and Latino men. (Via Gothamist)
District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled the policy unconstitutional in August 2013 and made some reform recommendations. The city's former Mayor Michael Bloomberg appealed the ruling.
Now De Blasio, who made reforming stop-and-frisk a key part of his mayoral campaign last year, has dropped that appeal. He also announced he will adopt some of Scheindlin's recommendations, like appointing a federal monitor for the NYPD.
And use of stop-and-frisk has changed in recent years. NYPD's new Commissioner Bill Bratton called the problems with stop-and-frisk "more or less solved" a few weeks ago, citing a dramatic reduction in the number of stops — down from almost 700,000 in 2011 to 200,000 in 2013. (Via New York Daily News)
But the legal fight over stop-and-frisk might not be completely over. Bloomberg notes New York City's police unions have requested to intervene in the case, carrying on with the appeal even if the city drops it.
In a Dec. 30 letter to the court, the unions wrote, "The new mayor should not be permitted to hand control over the NYPD to the federal courts or to prevent this court from reviewing the demonstrably erroneous decisions."
After De Blasio's announcement, it's up to the U.S. Court of Appeals to hand the case back down to the district courts. Once that happens, the city will debate the planned reforms with the plaintiffs for 45 days before the appeal can be formally dropped.