2013 August 12

NYC Police’s Stop and Frisk Practices Ruled Unconstitutional


A U.S. District Court judge, in Floyd v. New York City on this day, declared the “stop and frisk” practices of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) unconstitutional, in violation of both the Fourth and the Fourteenth Amendments. The stop-and-frisk controversy had raged for 14 years in the city, while the NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to listen to continuing community complaints. At its peak in 2012, NYPD officers stopped over 600,000 people, and frisked about half of them. Annually, about 86 percent of those stopped were people of color. Additionally, only 12 percent of those stopped were arrested or given a citation, meaning that the police were wrong in 88 percent of the stops.

The Supreme Court established the law of stops and frisks in the case of Terry v. Ohio (June 10, 1968). Under that decision, a “stop, which is a temporary detention,” is justified only when an officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the person is committing or is about to commit a crime. The judge ordered a sweeping set of reforms for the NYPD, including a new stop-and-frisk report form and improved procedures for the review of officers’ conduct in stop and frisk situations.

Learn more about the case and its history at the Center for Constitutional Rights: http://ccrjustice.org/

Read: Stephen Schulhofer, More Essential Than Ever: The Fourth Amendment in the Twenty-First Century (2012)

Learn more about curbing police misconduct: Samuel Walker and Carol Archbold, The New World of Police Accountability (2014)

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