In what could be considered a victory for all New Yorkers, this morning a judge  ruled that the “stop and frisk” procedure commonly practiced by the NYPD is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin called it “indirect racial profiling”.

“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” Scheindlin wrote in her opinion.

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg still stands behind the procedure.

“People also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged,” he said at a news conference, repeating his conviction that the program resulted in a drastic reduction in crime that made New York the “poster child” for safe U.S. cities.

Judge Scheindlin ordered the immediate  appointment of an independent monitor and other changes to police policies. Bloomberg plans on appealing Judge Scheindlin’s ruling.

From Reuters:

The number of stops rose to 685,724 in 2011 from 160,851 in 2003, with about half resulting in physical searches, a 2012 report by the New York Civil Liberties Union showed.

In 2011, there were more frisk searches of young black men than the number of these men living in the city, the report found.

Only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos searched by the police in 2011 had weapons on them, compared with 3.8 percent of whites, the NYCLU report said.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defends policy against racial profiling allegations

Bloomberg and Kelly countered that the practice has driven down violent crime and limited the number of illegal guns being carried on the streets.

Homicides fell from 649 in 2001 to 419 in 2012, the lowest number since records have been kept. Other major felonies have fallen by similar proportions.

Proponents of the “stop and frisk” procedure feel that once the new policies take effect, the crime rates will rise and it would prove Bloomberg’s point.

You can read the full ruling here.

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