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United States Politics

Federal Judge Rules NYC "Stop and Frisk" Violated Rights 308

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the what-fourth-amendment dept.
In a mixed ruling for Fourth Amendment rights, a federal judge today ruled that NYC's Stop-and-Frisk program violated constitutional rights due to disproportionately targeting minorities. However, despite the program being unconstitutional in its current form, it will not stop. From the New York Times: " Judge Scheindlin also ordered a number of other remedies, including a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear body-worn cameras in an effort to record street encounters. She also ordered a 'joint remedial process' — in essence, a series of community meetings — to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk. ... The Supreme Court had long ago ruled that stop-and-frisks were constitutionally permissible under certain conditions, and Judge Scheindlin stressed that she was 'not ordering an end to the practice.' But she said that changes were needed to ensure that the street stops were carried out in a manner that “protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much needed police protection.' ... The judge found that the New York police were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop. " The ruling itself (PDF). Bloomberg is furious about the decision, and the city, naturally, intends to appeal.
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Federal Judge Rules NYC "Stop and Frisk" Violated Rights

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  • I don't understand (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xevioso (598654) on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:03PM (#44547193)

    I've always wondered how something can be racist if it is true. I don't know what the percentages in NYC are of people who commit crimes in certain areas and what races those folks tend to be, but if 70% of the crimes in an area are committed by folks of a certain race, whatever that race may be, why does it not make sense to focus your suspicions while policing on people of that race?

  • by SpottedKuh (855161) on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:12PM (#44547275)
    Because focusing your suspicions on someone based on their socio-economic conditions (wealth, race, family, friends, etc.) as they relate to a specific crime is a very, very different matter from *detaining* someone based on those criteria.
  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:12PM (#44547283) Journal

    The vast majority of violent crimes are males. Please submit for your daily frisking, male scum.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:12PM (#44547289)

    Self-fulfilling prophecy for one thing. If cops believe the majority of crimes are committed by cubans, and spend 90% of their time in cuban neighborhoods frisking cuban immigrants then 90% of their arrests will be cubans. This will serve as a confirmation bias to further harass cubans, because 90% of criminals are cubans.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:19PM (#44547359)

    I've always wondered how something can be racist if it is true. I don't know what the percentages in NYC are of people who commit crimes in certain areas and what races those folks tend to be, but if 70% of the crimes in an area are committed by folks of a certain race, whatever that race may be, why does it not make sense to focus your suspicions while policing on people of that race?

    The thing you have to remember is how crime statistics are compiled. If 70% of drug offenders are black, for instance, that does not mean that 70% of all people who use drugs are black. It means 70% of those who are arrested are black. If you focus the bulk of your efforts on black people because 70% of drug offenders are black, then you'll just continue to incarcerate black people while white investment bankers continue doing blow. This is what's racist about it: you're now at risk of targeting one particular race and creating a perpetual cycle of over-selection from the greater population.

    Back to your original point: you're advocating profiling as a reasonable, objective mechanism for effectively stopping a type of crime. This works as a thought experiment or in a sterile academic environment. Once you get into the world, though, you really don't have a reliable method for determining the percentages of offenders outside of looking at those who are arrested, which leads your (well-intentioned) plan into a system in which certain crimes are only illegal for certain races.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:23PM (#44547391)

    Stop-and-frisk has one aim: Keep certain groups in fear and make sure they do not organize or start defending themselves by strongly implying that they have no rights and that their privacy can be invaded at any time and without any reason. It is a tried and true tactics, optimized by the Nazis and in Stalinism, but created much earlier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:26PM (#44547407)

    Not to mention the negative effects that such behaviour would have on the cuban areas and on the mentality of the people living in them, which then makes it more likely that they will live up to the stereotype that has been formed of them.

    Think about it... black people are -no- different to us in any way except their appearance. The number of people that escape that trap and become highly successful proves it. So what's different? The people that are like that are like that for no reason other than they have grown up believing that is the slot in which they are placed.

    Plus there are plenty of equivalents in every other population group... but the ones that look like you blend into the crowd while those that look different stand out. Therefore you ignore the first and focus on the latter, falsely believing only the latter exist.

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:31PM (#44547439)

    I've always wondered how something can be racist if it is true.

    Because complaints of "racism" is now how you stop people from telling the truth.

    13% of the U.S. population is black but they commit 50% of all murders and 55% of all robberies. But that's just the national average. In some areas it's much worse. In Chicago for example, blacks and hispanics combined are responsible for 96% of all murders. In St. Paul, Minnesota the population is 13% black but they are responsible for 70% of all crimes.

    And so on, and so on . . . . . . .

    When minorities stop committing a disproportionate amount of crime the police will leave them alone.

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:50PM (#44547605)

    That doesn't really work with murder and gang violence. You can't hide gunshots and dead bodies from society. You can massage arrest stats and crime stats for drugs, gambling, prostitution, and even burglaries and auto-theft. Let a few prostitutes go because it's not worth the hassle. Knock down some felony thefts into petty larceny.

    Ever seen an arrest sheet for a kid who fires at police with a gun? Kids in gangs have huge arrest sheets. Dozens of violent arrests but all knocked down to minor crimes. It hides the stats and makes NYC look safer. Then these kids get out into the streets and eventually are killed by police after a few robberies, murders, and rapes. All the gang violence by kids like Shaaliver Douse and Kimani Gray are hidden from society until it is too late.

    But you can't realistically turn a murder into something else unless you really stretch the truth. You can't say that a dead body filled with bullets was a suicide or a hunting accident in NYC. So these magic fake stats that the police use rarely apply to murder. A body is a body. We are seeing this with the Ft. Hood mass shooting. Obama refuses to call it terrorism because it counts negatively towards his anti-terror stats. So he classifies that as 'workplace violence' when an admitted terrorist is firing into crowds of people screaming 'Allah Akbar'.

    The reason why police profile certain races, certain age groups, certain dress types, and other attributes and behaviors, is that those help them narrow down the likely perpetrator of a gang crime. Gang violence in NYC, LA, Detroit, Chicago, is what causes the majority of street murders. Stop and Frisk was meant to profile gang members and then allow police to search them for weapons. It's solved a considerable number of murders. And prevented a considerable number of murders.

    The majority of murders solved and prevented by Stop and Frisk have been of black victims. Because black on black crime is almost an epidemic in large urban areas in the United States.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Monday August 12, 2013 @07:56PM (#44547643) Journal

    Sorry for replying to my own post...

    >> In my view, police-eye view cameras should be completely mandatory.

    For clarification, the footage should be available to everyone as part of their own defense. If you are accused of a crime, the police must give you the footage in exactly the same way other evidence must be made available. It doesn't matter the crime, even failing to signal for a lane change, or whatever else. Along the lines of "pics or it didn't happen".

    This should also include the entire transaction inside police 'interview' rooms. If they invite you inside for a little chat the entire video should be available to you and your lawyer. Many times police will coerce a 'confession' out of somebody through dubious means, the mandatory video would prevent false claims and help eliminate bad cops. Everybody wins.

    Cameras are so cheap that police policy should be that all police interactions are recorded. If the cop claims he saw you do something then it should be on the glasses camera. If the video is missing from the record, the police shouldn't prosecute and juries should have a serious question of "Why did the cop not generate a recording of this? What is the cop trying to hide?"

    This is different from a surveillance state. It is not "big brother watching you." It is watching big brother. As the NYT article linked to describes, when people fraudulently claim police abuse they give up after seeing the tape. On the other side, after police see their mistakes they will drop the cases because they know they'll lose in court, and become better and more honest cops.

    Everybody wins.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday August 12, 2013 @08:08PM (#44547735)

    And prevented a considerable number of murders.

    Citation?

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday August 12, 2013 @08:19PM (#44547831) Homepage Journal

    Just have a directive that all city officials will be frisked at least once randomly each day.

    Well, if the idea is that you should stop and frisk the people who are most likely to be committing crimes, then at least in Chicago, you would absolutely justified in stopping and frisking every city official.

    I seem to recall that a Chicago city official is something like 17 times more likely to be convicted of a felony than the average Chicagoan. That exceeds any racial or ethnic basis for crime statistics by a wide margin. That's even greater than the likelihood that the perpetrator of a violent crime will be a man instead of a woman.

    Yes, that's a very good idea to start profiling city officials.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Monday August 12, 2013 @08:27PM (#44547887)

    Gang violence in NYC, LA, Detroit, Chicago, is what causes the majority of street murders. Stop and Frisk was meant to profile gang members and then allow police to search them for weapons. It's solved a considerable number of murders. And prevented a considerable number of murders.

    The majority of murders solved and prevented by Stop and Frisk have been of black victims. Because black on black crime is almost an epidemic in large urban areas in the United States.

    All of which is rooted in rampant poverty. But, by all means, let's continue playing cowboys and indians because it's a hell of a lot more fun than actually fixing the underlying problem.

  • What's really sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Monday August 12, 2013 @08:38PM (#44547973) Journal
    What's really sad about this is that the act of frisking anyone without any fact-based suspicion is not considered a violation of the constitution. It's only the racial bias in the ways the stops were performed that makes it illegal.
  • If you're interested in crime prevention and care equally about all citizens, you'll have to insist that police should spend more effort protecting blacks. That requires good relations with the community, to get tips about who's running the crack house and whose kid is at a turning point. The police won't get those good relations by stopping people at random and treating them like convicts or airline passengers.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday August 12, 2013 @11:07PM (#44548893) Journal

    What's really sad about this is that the act of frisking anyone without any fact-based suspicion is not considered a violation of the constitution.

    What's DOUBLY sad about this is that a court found it unconstitutional and LET IT CONTINUE!

    The Supreme Court has said that unconstitutional laws are void from the start and do not authorize anything. Government functionaries claiming to operate under such laws and interpretations have no special standing - they'reperforming the act as a private citizen.

    If *I* stopped and frisked somebody it would be several felonies - which means it is if the cops do it, too.

  • by Arker (91948) on Monday August 12, 2013 @11:42PM (#44549047) Homepage

    Correlation isnt causation, and even if your incidences stack up perfectly that still does not translate into the color of your skin amounting to individual probable cause to search you, and in America we do not permit searches without such individual cause for suspicion.

    Furthermore, the 'crimes' they are catching here are simple possession of controlled substances or second amendment implements. So the poor black/hispanic guy that is stuck living here and has to walk on these streets where his chances of getting shot are relatively high to begin with, and he either arms himself or gets high, depending on which type he is. And now he gets randomly stopped and caught and boom! another poor person converted into a criminal.

    Much easier and more lucrative for the imprisonment-industrial complex to deal with than trying to figure out who is actually committing murders and arrest THEM and convict them. Those cases might get complicated, and require police work.

  • by chihowa (366380) on Monday August 12, 2013 @11:59PM (#44549121)

    Thank the move away from requiring mens rea and toward strict liability in recent laws for this. Because, you know, it's easier to prosecute if the perp had no knowledge of, or intention of, committing a crime. We need to fill up those for-profit prisons, and disenfranchise as many voters as possible, and there are only so many actual criminals out there.

  • by Camael (1048726) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @12:08AM (#44549199)

    Laws have to be applied equally to every group. When 87% of the people stopped and frisked are young Black or Hispanic males would suggest that these two groups were singled out and that may be illegal.

    Relying on raw numbers like that to draw assumptions is dangerous and may mistake the cause for the effect. You can get the same numbers from completely innnocent events- one example I can think of is if there was a crime wave in a particular area which the police are focusing on quelling. The police may, acting in good faith treat everyone in that area the same regardless of race but that area just so happens to be predominantly populated by Blacks and Hispanics. In those circumstances it would not be surprising if a larger number of the arrestees slant towards Blacks and Hispanics.

    What I'm saying is that looking at pure percentages is deceptive if we don't take into account the context in which that figure was calculated or arrived at.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @02:37AM (#44549791) Journal

    So now the cops will just do 'fake' s&s's on a whole bunch of white people to make the overall percentages more reasonable.

    By 'fake', I mean the cop will stop a random white person, say they want to do a s&s, maybe touch the person on the shoulder, maybe ask to look in their purse, and they are on their way [unlike the regular full ball-sack fondling search].

    This will have to dual effect of technically meeting the requirement of not solely targeting minorities, and making white go "why are they complaining about these searches? I/someone I know went through one of these searches and it was trivial."

  • by nbauman (624611) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @03:11AM (#44549913) Homepage Journal

    Nice example, but it seems the answer is still the black guy [wikipedia.org].

    Nice example, but your single data point proves nothing. Somebody saw a guy busting into a house and called police, and she even said it could be the guy who lives there---she wasn't sure. An officer showed up and explained that he was looking into a report of a break-in. Gates became belligerent and abusive, so he got arrested.

    You're a lawyer? I looked up the Massachusetts disorderly conduct statute that Gates was charged with (and there were a few articles by lawyers about this issue). Disorderly conduct required making a public disturbance. Gates was not in public. He was on his own porch, in the middle of his own fenced-in plot. There was nobody from the public around for him to disturb. He had a right to be disorderly on his own private property where he was bothering no one else. They had to throw the charge out, because it was invalid on its face. They couldn't have prevailed.

    Gates became belligerent and abusive, so he got arrested.

    If Gates had behaved perfectly, he wouldn't have been belligerent and abusive. But people in that situation often do get angry and offended.

    Gates had no legal obligation to behave perfectly. He only had a legal obligation to follow the law, and it's not against the law to become "belligerent and abusive" in his own home under those circumstances.

    On the other hand, Crowley had no right to arrest Gates. "Disrespecting a cop" is not a crime.

    Gates also asked Crowley repeatedly for his name and badge number, and Crowley repeatedly refused. In New York City, that would be grounds for discipline, as you can read in the Scheindlin memorandum. In Gates' account, his being "belligerent and abusive" consisted of repeatedly demanding Crowley's name and badge number -- which was Gates' legal right.

    It was a false arrest, and I wish Gates had settled the debate by suing Cambridge for false arrest.

    Then the racial-industrial complex jumped in to milk it for maximum gain.

    I'm glad they did. Do you want to live in a world where somebody can get arrested for repeatedly asking a cop for his badge number? I don't. They're protecting me. They're protecting the rest of us. They're protecting you.

    Then the Agitator-in-Chief weighed in with his blanket statement that Gates was right and Crowley was wrong.

    You're a lawyer? What was Obama's "blanket statement"? Citation needed. I thought Obama stuck up for Crowley when he shouldn't have, out of inappropriate even-handedness.

    I somehow suspect you're not a defense lawyer. Or a constitutional lawyer.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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