Judge postpones order on NYPD's stop and frisk program

Opponents of the New York Police Department's controversial

Opponents of the New York Police Department's controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy rally in the Bronx. (Jan. 27, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

A federal judge Tuesday, citing unnecessary costs and burdens on police, temporarily postponed an order she issued earlier this month that directed the NYPD to make only legal stop and frisks in the Bronx outside private apartment buildings.

Manhattan Judge Shira Scheindlin had earlier found that the police were involved in an unconstitutional practice of stopping people for trespass outside those buildings in the Trespass Affidavit Program, or TAP. She then issued an injunction against the NYPD.

Scheindlin said she wasn't convinced the city could successfully appeal her earlier ruling. But, after city attorneys filed additional legal papers, she throttled back. She said she recognized "reversal is always a possibility" and the NYPD showed it would be burdensome to try to immediately implement new training for officers on the correct way to perform a stop, question and frisk.

While allowing TAP to continue, Scheindlin didn't change her core beliefs that the police have been making unconstitutional stop and frisks in TAP and that the NYPD hadn't been training cops correctly on the law.

Police are permitted under the law to stop and frisk people who they reasonably suspect are involved in criminal activity. Three federal lawsuits have challenged the way the NYPD conducts stop and frisks, including one challenging TAP. Another larger case is set to go to trial in March. Scheindlin said she wanted to wait until that case is completed before fashioning a remedy.

City attorneys applauded Scheindlin's latest ruling, as did Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

"She reaffirmed her strong disapproval of the stop and frisk excesses and it may be this is a more efficient way to move the case forward," Lieberman said.

Scheindlin wasn't clear on how long her injunction would be suspended. She said she wanted to move the larger stop and frisk case to trial in March and rejected a city request that it be delayed.

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