"Stop and Frisk" Lawsuit: Minorities Challenge "Racist" NYPD Policy


A civil lawsuit began this Monday, challenging the "stop and frisk" policy of the New York Police Department on grounds of racial profiling. The suit, Floyd, et al. v. City of New York et al., was filed in 2008 and is a class action suit bringing multiple plaintiffs together. People lined up to give testimonies include constitutional experts, officers, and 11 people of color who claim they have been victims to unjustified stop and frisks. The New York Daily news reports that a prominent piece to the case will come from audiotapes by a police officer that claimed his precinct called for filling arrest quotas. 

A controversial policy, stop and frisks are not arrests, but rather an entirely different type of procedure. As outlined by USLegal.com: "Stop and frisk is when police temporarily detain somebody and pat down their outer clothing when there are specific articulable facts leading a reasonable police officer to believe a person is armed and dangerous. It is not necessary for the officer to articulate or identify a specific crime they think is being committed, only that a set of factual circumstances exist that would lead a reasonable officer to have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring. Reasonable suspicion is one step below probable cause and one step above a hunch."

The phrasing, "necessary for the officer to articulate or identify a specific crime they think is being committed" pitted against an officer needing to have "reasonable suspicion" is vague and may be a source to as to why the policy will now be reexamined in a court of law.

An analysis completed by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that New Yorkers had been subjugated to police stops more than 4 million times since 2002. Furthermore, the suspects in these interrogations have been overwhelmingly comprised of African-Americans and Latinos — and 9 out of 10 stops have resulted in innocent people being wrongly stopped. These statistics coupled alongside the class action suit show that there is reasonable suspicion to the nature to the stop and frisk policy — while legal, it may need to see an overhaul in the near future.