New York-- A federal judge ruled that the New York City Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which has been criticized as racial profiling, violates individuals' constitutional rights - a significant judicial rebuke for what the mayor and police commissioner have defended as a life-saving, crime-fighting tool.
Instead of ordering an end to the practice, however, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin appointed an independent monitor to oversee changes to the policy.
Peter L. Zimroth, a onetime city lawyer and a former chief assistant district attorney, has been appointed as the monitor. In both roles, Zimroth worked closely with the NYPD, Scheindlin said.
Four men had sued saying they were unfairly targeted because of their race. There have been about 5 million stops during the past decade, mostly black and Hispanic men. Scheindlin issued her ruling after a 10-week bench trial for the class-action lawsuit that included testimony from top NYPD brass and a dozen people, 11 men and one woman, who said they were wrongly stopped because of their race.
The case was the largest and most broad legal action against the policy at the nation's largest police department, and may have an effect on how other police departments make street stops, legal experts said.
City lawyers argued the department does a good job policing itself with an internal affairs bureau, a civilian complaint board and quality assurance divisions.