New York's Legal Battle Over Stop and Frisk Comes to an End
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio may have lost ground with stop-and-frisk opponents by tapping veteran lawman Bill Bratton to head the NYPD, but a decision he made today should restore his standing. Earlier this afternoon, de Blasio announced that the city will drop its appeal of last year's landmark stop-and-frisk ruling, and settle with the plaintiffs.
The decision won't bring an end to stop and frisk, the use of which has been slowly declining since 2011, but it does signal an end of another saga—the one that began when Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled in August 2013 that the practice, as deployed by the NYPD, was unconstitutional.
Scheindlin's ruling in Jaenean Ligon vs. City of New York and David Floyd v. City of New York infuriated former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who accused the federal judge of "display[ing] disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our police officers," and promised to appeal. Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly called the ruling "disturbing" and "offensive." The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reacted to the ruling by accusing Scheindlin of violating the code of conduct for a judge, and kicking her off the case. The appeals court also granted the city a stay, meaning the NYPD could ignore the list of remedies mandated by Scheindlin.
De Blasio's decision to halt the appeals process is him putting his money where his mouth is on stop and frisk. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association was worried de Blasio would do this, and now the group reportedly wants to be involved in settling the case. If they're not happy with today's news, it's likely they'll push back against the other reforms watchdog groups are pushing for.
Top image: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the stop and frisk decision at a news conference in the Brownsville neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, New York January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Thayer.