Lawyers urge judge not to delay NYPD stop-frisk reforms
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Friday joined lawyers who successfully sued to rein in the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics to oppose any postponement of U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin's August decision ordering reforms while the city appeals.
"The City's insistence on continuing this litigation rather than righting an injustice too long inflicted on New Yorkers is disappointing," the plaintiffs said in a letter opposing a stay sought by the city. ". . . This court should not permit the City to postpone justice."
Quinn, one of several Democratic mayoral candidates who have called for reforming stop and frisk, noted in an affidavit that the City Council last month overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto to approve legislation naming an NYPD inspector general.
"Public concern over the practice has bred mistrust between the city's residents and the police charged with protecting them," she wrote. ". . . It is a delay in implementing necessary and important reforms . . . that would cause irreparable harm to the city and its residents."
Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD stopped people without an adequate constitutional basis and disproportionately targeted minorities. She named a federal monitor to implement reforms, and ordered cops in five precincts to wear cameras as part of a test program.
Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly have said the ruling could harm public safety and infringes on city discretion over policing. They asked the judge on Aug. 27 to delay her orders while they ask the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse her.
Scheindlin has not indicated when she will rule. If she turns down the city, Bloomberg can ask the Second Circuit itself to stay her ruling while it considers the appeal.
Recently released NYPD statistics indicated a dramatic drop in the use of stop and frisk during the past year, which the city argued shows that there is no immediate need for court involvement. But the plaintiffs said the fact that crime has stayed low with fewer stops shows there is no public safety risk from moving forward with reforms.
"The City's attempt to delay the remedy process is part of the same pattern of obstinacy it has shown over more than a decade in response to efforts by activists, legal organizations, and affected communities to get the NYPD to comply with the Constitution," said Darius Charney, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.