August 12, 2013

NYC stop-and-frisk practice violates rights, the federal judge rules, after a 2-month trial.

"Relying on a complex statistical analysis presented at trial, Judge Scheindlin found that the racial composition of a census tract played a role in predicting how many stops would occur."
She emphasized what she called the “human toll of unconstitutional stops,” noting that some of the plaintiffs testified that their encounters with the police left them feeling that they did not belong in certain areas of the cities. She characterized each stop as “a demeaning and humiliating experience.”...

While the [U.S.] Supreme Court has long recognized the right of police officers to briefly stop and investigate people who are behaving suspiciously, Judge Scheindlin found that the New York police had overstepped that authority. She found that officers were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop.

“Blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites,” she wrote.

39 comments:

Phil said...

But don't change the states that are subject to prequalification under the VRA! That would be racist.

Ipso Fatso said...

It will be interesting to see how much the crime rate jumps once the new orders go into effect.

Matthew Sablan said...

"She noted that about 88 percent of the stops result in the police letting the person go without an arrest or ticket, a percentage so high, she said, that it suggests there was not a credible suspicion to suspect the person of criminality in the first place."

-- I don't know if her conclusion from that premise is correct, but it does strike me as proof toward the fact there were many more people being stopped and frisked than needed to be.

Dale Light said...

It would be interesting to see the complex statistical analysis that convinced the judge. You have three variables that are positively correlated -- minority population, criminal acts, and stop and frisk incidents -- how did they break them apart? What tests were used? How were the geographical boundaries of the areas wherein the data were collected drawn? Is there a subset of individuals who show up multiple times in each category? What statistical training does the judge have? There are so many things to consider? I suspect GIGO [garbage in, garbage out].

khesanh0802 said...

This decision was forgone conclusion. In some ways it seems like the classic "if it works stop doing it" approach. I have never been subjected to a stop and search. I am sure that it is not pleasant, but when walking the streets of NYC I would be happy to know that there is a police presence - although I have always stayed out of the areas where this type of policing seems most needed.

Of course more blacks are going to be stopped. Blacks in NYC commit more crimes, as a % of population, than whites (it has nothing to do with racism).

I am sure there have been illegal/unwarranted stops but when making millions of stops there are bound to be. That the judge could not bring herself to order a stop to the practice ( which most have felt was her original intent) must demonstrate how overwhelmingly successful "stop and frisk" has been.

mamawolf said...

Too bad that the people hurt the most over the ruling will be the minorities. Stop, question, and frisk was created to protect young people, mostly black and Hispanic, from being gunned down by criminals and gang members. When the death rate climbs, will the black community take responsibility or beg for a return of the "racist" policy

CatherineM said...

Maybe they can also stop, "Safety Stops," too. That's where they pull over random cars near bottle-necks for bridges and tunnels. It's sounds like something "terror related," but they don't check the vehicle, just check your license, registration and insurance so they can ticket you.

I was pulled over twice in one week by the 59th street bridge. It's Bullshit.

sykes.1 said...

Over at the Captain's Journal, the Captain discusses recent proposals to establish specialized military police units in the US Marshals service and to use COIN methods to pacify black and hispanic neighborhoods. One step back and two steps forward?

Cedarford said...

Individual Rights and Freedom!!! - can only exist in context of a society that feels reasonably secure from economic catastrophe and reasonably secure from violent thug predation. (Because they also believe that being able to live and not starve or freeze, live without family members raped, cut down, maimed in robberies - is an important grouping of Rights and Freedoms as enumerated ones.)

If something has to give, the People will go with safety and security over criminal rights, terrorist or enemy in wartime Constitutional freedoms, or freedom of the powerful to economically pillage the masses and make them destitute.
In every nation, including America.

NYC in the 70s had that balance tipped so a good deal of its citizens were living in constant fear of criminal predation and willing to demand the lawyers in positions of power over citizens and elected officials in power recognize that and fix it. They did. The ones who didn't ended up voted out or demoted to traffic court.

Liberalism or being an extreme libertarian asshole is generally defined as a person with the luxury of feeling they are at a safe remove from criminal violence (liberals) or that and no fear of destitution without the benefit of government entitlements. (libertarian extremists)

paul a'barge said...

This is why women are unsuitable to be judges.

Amichel said...

I always thought that using the Terry Stop framework for these kind of stop and frisk policies was stretching the meaning of the law. A Terry stop is meant to be a quick search for weapons, specifically to protect the safety of police officers and members of the public. If someone is not seen to be potentially dangerous to the officer or the public, I don't see how you can justify frisking them. I think they rely on seeing "furtive movements", and their experience as police officers, to justify it, but I guess the judge agreed that this isn't enough.

William said...

The older and more vulnerable members of bad neighborhoods are in favor of this program, and they dare not say so out loud.......Several months ago, some kid shot up a bus. He was aiming at a rival gang member. He hit a twelve year old girl and left her a quadriplegic. The shooting made the papers for a day and then was forgotten......That twelve year old should be wheeled out to every anti stop and frisk rally.

Matthew Sablan said...

William: Would the stop-and-frisk have stopped that shooting? Where did the shooting happen? Did they already stop-frisk there?

cubanbob said...

It's a good thing for the judge that judges have qualified immunity lest she get sued when the results of her ruling sparks an increase in crime.

tim maguire said...

It's a fundamental to the definition of a free society that law abiding citizens have a right to be free of police harassment.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised about all the crap on this comment thread about "criminals rights" and liberty being the dubious privilege of rich white people. A lot of question begging going on here.

PBGolfer said...

Given that quite a lot of people look alike and match the description of a suspect, and given that the percentage of crimes committed by differs by race, I'd think that 1 out of 8 isn't bad.

Also, it's been shown that the incarceration rate by race understates the crimes committed by race and certain minorities are treated more leniently than majorities. This points to a racial bias in the judges own profession and I don't see anyone coming out to place a federal monitor on this judge and her peer.

Tank said...

Why do you rob banks?

That's where the money is.

Actually, I think the stop and frisk routine is unconstitutional as it's applied. So may stops yielding nothing means A LOT of ... oops.

On the other hand, if they're gonna do it, of course blacks should be stopped way more than whites. See above re: banks. I agree with Bloomberg (just wanted to say that one time)(sidebar, why isn't Bloomberg denounced as a racist?).

Balfegor said...

How exactly does the stop and frisk policy work? Would it be effective -- maybe less effective but still effective -- if there were only rarely a "frisk" component? Because that seems like it would be the most invasive/offensive part of the process. Maybe even the "stop" could be watered down to the police officer saying "hello, what's going on here?" to shifty looking groups of young men on the street (or does that already count as a stop?).

American police (like other American public "servants") seem to have a terribly confrontational/oppositional attitude towards the people whose servants they are supposed to be. The sunglasses, the cars, the tone of command. I wonder whether stop-and-frisk hasn't been adopted simply because it puts old-fashioned police activity -- the local omawari-san checking in on the residents of his neighbourhood -- into a framework that is intelligible and acceptable to the modern militarized American police culture.

For my part, I think it's the constant, visible police presence, implicitly ready to escalate if necessary that has the effect, rather than the actual stopping and frisking (especially if the actual stopping and frisking are finding actual violations in only 1 in 1000 cases). That is -- I wonder whether a policy like "stop and frisk" is really necessary to suppress crime, whether a softer sort of interaction that nevertheless makes clear that the police are out and interacting with the community (not just watching from behind mirrored shades from their cars on the street) would not have more or less the same effect.

Jupiter said...

The general assumption seems to be that S&F is effective, and is responsible for the recent reduction in crime rates in NYC. This seems unlikely.

Crimes occur because someone wants to commit them, and has the means and the opportunity. Which of those factors is S&F supposed to reduce? Are that many prospective criminals being locked up? Are they being deprived of their weapons (are sharpened screw-drivers that hard to come by?)?

Big Mike said...

As a general rule, cities with strict gun control laws have a higher incidence of violent crime than cities in states with "must issue" concealed carry permit laws. NYC is always trotted out by the gun control fanatics as a counterexample. However NYC has "stop and frisk," or used to. If stop and frisk made a significant difference in violent crimes, as 2nd amendment supporters have argued, then the prediction is that rates of violent crime should climb, and climb dramatically. If it makes little difference, as liberals have argued, then rates of violent crime should not move very much.

Think of this an interesting social science experiment, albeit one where there will potentially be a significant loss of human life.

chuck said...

Maybe judges and police should just leave blacks alone. In Kareem's autobiography he mentions somewhere that his father and other men would get together and help trouble makers take a long step off a tall building. So perhaps it would be better to arm a black neighborhood militia and let vigilante justice take its course.

Robert Cook said...

"Stop, question, and frisk was created to protect young people, mostly black and Hispanic, from being gunned down by criminals and gang members."

Oh, is that the reason given to justify this practice? And you believe it?

"Of course more blacks are going to be stopped. Blacks in NYC commit more crimes, as a % of population, than whites..."

How do you know this?

"...(it has nothing to do with racism)."

Of course not.

"Over at the Captain's Journal, the Captain discusses recent proposals to establish specialized military police units in the US Marshals service and to use COIN methods to pacify black and hispanic neighborhoods. One step back and two steps forward?

Sounds like 25 steps forward...to establishing an overt police state domestically. We already have a covert police state in place. Don't think that once it is unleashed for all to see it will stop at the borders of "black and hispanic neighborhoods."

As a NYC resident for 32 years, I applaud the judge's decision.

The Godfather said...

"These stop-and-frisk episodes . . . soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline", the judge said (according to the paper). Cause and effect? Or, as James Taranto would say, Is that you, Fox Butterfield?

hombre said...

Stats released not long ago by NYPD indicated that minorities were subjected to "stop and frisk" in smaller proportions than they were identified as perpetrators of reported crimes.

(Sorry, I can't find the link, but the data was cited in an article and confirmed by the NY Police Commissioner.)

William said...

I had a friend whose grandson got caught with a gun. He had some story about how a friend just asked him to hold it. Maybe the story wasn't b.s. The kid didn't go to jail, but the family ended up with some steep legal expenses. I don't know this for sure, but my guess is that the kid never went anywhere near a gun again........There are criminals who purposefully carry a gun. But that's why they carry the gun--for a purpose. They no longer carry a gun as a fashion accessory or to give themselves street cred. As a result, there's a lot less impulsive shooting (and, of course, wounded bystanders). I suppose this is an intrusion on the civil rights of black teenagers, but some gangbanger shooting up a playground can also be considered a civil rights violation.

david7134 said...

Many are beginning to say that the US has too many laws, rules and regulations. That, plus the fact that cops are becoming a paramilitary force that is against the average law abiding citizen, makes many feel that we are no longer a free society. We have the TSA now leaving the airports and interfering with law abiding people in almost every part of our lives. Being stopped in the airport was stupid enough and lacked any real security, but to have cop and the Feds bothering us constantly is too much. I for one do not feel that their is a legal answer to this. The government has become too big and unresponsive to the voter. I feel it is time to begin serious talks about secession.

SGT Ted said...

I am in agreement with Cook here. There has to be better ways to enforce the law and protect basic civil liberties.

American Police Departments have become far too militarized. They need to civilianize it back to the "tough-but-fair" type of old style beat cop mentality.

David said...

Lies, damned lies and statistics

khesanh0802 said...

@ Robert Cook

From a piece by Jason Reilly in the WSJ:

blacks, who make up about 24 percent of New York City's population, were responsible for 66 percent of all violent crime in 2009, including 80 percent of shootings and 71 percent of robberies.

Robert, where do you live in NYC? Do you spend a lot of time in the projects and ghettos?

Balfegor said...

Re: Jupiter:

Crimes occur because someone wants to commit them, and has the means and the opportunity. Which of those factors is S&F supposed to reduce?

Both means and opportunity.

If would-be criminals are getting contacts from police on a regular basis, and the police are out and about watching you, wouldn't that tend to raise the opportunity cost of actually committing the crime? The police are out watching you.

It also limits the means of committing crimes, because if there's a pretty high chance you're going to get searched, the risks involved in carrying around tools for criminal activity go up considerably. There's the risk of discovery, and (in a place like New York) a reasonable chance that possession is a crime in and of itself. I would tend to think this effect is more limited than the first, though.

paul a'barge said...

Here's the judge:
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/07/27/nyregion/27judge.190_cityroom.jpg

Lesbian. Straight up.

Kirk Parker said...

paul a'b:

You left off the "NTTAWWT".

paul a'barge said...

Kirk P: deliberately left off.

When Lesbians begin to act like thinking, discerning human beings instead of brain-dead, robot Liberals we'll put the NTTAWWT on there.

Robert Cook said...

khesanh0802 said:

"From a piece by Jason Reilly in the WSJ:

"blacks, who make up about 24 percent of New York City's population, were responsible for 66 percent of all violent crime in 2009, including 80 percent of shootings and 71 percent of robberies."

"Robert, where do you live in NYC? Do you spend a lot of time in the projects and ghettos?
"

I live in in an area of Manhattan that is lately seeing some gentrification, but that for much of my time living there was a mixed bag of the comfortable and the poor. There are quite a few projects mere blocks from where I live, and I know and have worked with people who live in those projects. That said, I'm fortunate that I don't live in some of the more blighted areas of the city, where violent crime is, admittedly, more likely than where I live. (Although, the one time I was mugged was in my neighborhood.)

Where does Mr. Reilly get his statistics? What do they really mean? How do we reconcile them with the acknowledgement by the NYPD that that overwhelming majority of those molested by the police while going about their daily lives have not been found to be in possession of weapons or contraband of any kind? Why, given this truth, should a "stop and frisk" policy be considered necessary? While Mr. Reilly refers to "violent" (i.e., street) crime, there are many crimes that are not overtly "violent" but that are far more damaging to society as a whole, more violent in their broader long-term outcomes--as for example the great crimes of fraud and theft that continue unpunished, even unprosecuted, by the largely lily-white gangsters on Wall Street and in the boardrooms of the great banks? What about organized crime, (e.g., the Mafia)? How many Italians in expensive suits are being stopped and frisked for weapons?

Moreover, Mr. Reilly would have us assume this "violent crime" he refers to is a storm swallowing the city, where violent crime is far lower than the levels of 20 and 30 years ago. Why, as violent crime has long been on the decline should stop and frisk tactics be on the increase? (Just as, why, when the likelihood of terrorism harming any one of us is so infinitesimal have we allowed the fear-mongering surrounding terrorism to lead us to the "war on terror," which is grossly expensive, largely unnecessary and ineffective, and violently destructive of our constitutional rights?)

It's easy to focus on one category of crime to distort the truth of who makes up the criminal classes in a society. The type of crimes referenced by Reilly are the crimes of the poor, mostly blacks and hispanics--in the city, at least--while the crimes that go unpunished and unremarked upon are the crimes of the affluent and privileged, (mostly whites). And yet the damage done by these latter crimes and criminals is far more destructive to society overall than by the more dramatic (though far more limited in scope) street crimes. The crimes of mortgage fraud, for example, render homeless thousands of families, tens of thousands of individuals, (or more),laying waste whole communities and destroying civic society. Tragedy on this scale--criminal actions of this scale--are so great we cannot comprehend them.

As others have pointed out, this is a class war, waged by the elites against the rest of us, which explains why so many are so untroubled by the ever-increasing violations of our civil liberties: too many are complacent and assume they will never become the targets of the authorities, because it is only "them" who will be persecuted.

The stop and frisk tactics are merely the pointed end of the stick. How is the comprehensive spying by the NSA on all us not, essentially, universal (if virtual) stop and frisk?

In a society where the civil rights and civil liberties of one class of citizens is not respected, the civil rights and civil liberties of all of us is mortally imperiled. Just wait.

Cedarford said...

Cookie - "In a society where the civil rights and civil liberties of one class of citizens is not respected, the civil rights and civil liberties of all of us is mortally imperiled. Just wait"

Rubbish. Democracies have worked better with limited franchises - especially those that limit the rights to only productive citizens.
Once the parasites and criminals can vote to get the money of others through redistribution, demand endless due process, and become obsessed with rights while rejecting all societal responsibilities and duties - cities, then states, then nations start to decay, decline.

khesanh0802 said...

@ robert Cook

Your sermon is enlightening, but the issue at hand is violent crime and "stop and frisk"; not the greedy bastards on Wall Street and in Washington or whether the NSA is doing the right or wrong thing.

Many would claim - with good reason - that violent crime rates are down because of the implementation of "stop and frisk".

That you worked with people from the projects is a little like saying some of my friends are black, gay, etc.

I imagine that those who suffer losses because of drive by shootings, gang wars, armed robberies would be a lot more concerned with stopping those violent crimes than whether Barney Frank or Fannie Mae or Goldman Sachs is most to blame for the housing bubble.

The following link will confirm Jason Reilly's stats and give you a lot more. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/analysis_and_planning/2012_year_end_enforcement_report.pdf

MCD said...

I'm with Balfegor again.
I would add another point. As a white female, I rarely come to police attention. But when I do, I am treated like scum, which I resent.
Would it be too much to ask police officers to treat S&F targets with respect? To explain courteously why they have been pulled aside and then, when found not to be bad people, to be given an apology, an offer of a handshake and best wishes?
It is true that young men of minority backgrounds commit more crimes than most. But it is also true that most young men of minority backgrounds do not commit crimes. Neither do most of the rest of us. Would it not be helpful for police not to alienate members of the larger community while doing their patrols?

Robert Cook said...

"That you worked with people from the projects is a little like saying some of my friends are black, gay, etc."

My point is: they're just people like anybody else, trying to pay their bills, live their lives, raise their families, be left alone. They are not some "other" who deserve to be singled out by the authorities to be detained, manhandled, questioned, humiliated--for no reason--just because they look like the cops' idea of potential perps.

"Many would claim - with good reason - that violent crime rates are down because of the implementation of 'stop and frisk.'"

What evidence is there to support this claim?

Here's an enlightening finding by Judge Scheindlin that I only saw this morning, in an article on Guardian UK.com:

"Judge Scheindlin found that in 88 percent of these stops, the individual was innocent of any wrongdoing; that in 98.5 percent of the frisks, no weapon was found; that 83 percent of the Department's stop-and-frisks were directed at blacks and Hispanics, even though blacks and Hispanics make up only 52 percent of the population; that the police were 40 percent more likely to use force when dealing with blacks and Hispanics than when dealing with whites; and that the officers were 40 percent more likely to find weapons and 28 percent more likely to find contraband when they frisked whites than when they frisked blacks and Hispanics."

Now, again, as per my original question regarding the meaning of Reilly's statistics, one can ask, what do these findings mean? What do they reveal? Removed from a larger context but quoted in isolation, we may draw erroneous or incomplete conclusions from them. But, that police were more likely to find weapons and contraband when frisking whites than blacks certainly complicates the simplistic "common sense" (sic) verities of those who assert that "stop and frisk" practices (as they have been practiced) are fair, nondiscriminatory, constitutional,effective policing, "simply going after those most likely to be criminals," and so on.

Let's be frank: if the police were stopping and frisking NYC's white citizens on the same scale as they have been its black and hispanic citizens, the outrage and uproar would be fierce and overwhelming...and the practice would stop without requiring a judge's ruling.

As to your assertion that the point is "violent crime," no; the point is how society defines which crimes and which criminals it will demonize and which it will ignore. (And, as I touched on in my comment, the crimes of the upper classes are far more violent in their larger effects on society and number of persons affected than the street crimes which draw media and police scrutiny.)

khesanh0802 said...

@ Robert Cook

I gave you the data link. Read the stats. They are frightening and confirm why most of the stops are for blacks or hispanics.

I won't get you off your white collar crime jag - I agree with you, but our politicians in Washington do a lot more damage that any Wall Street criminal - and what do we do about it? We keep sending the same idiots back.