NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Suit Granted Class Action Status

The latest development in the challenge to New York's controversial policy opens the doors for scores of potential plaintiffs. 

Posted: 05/17/2012 10:07 AM EDT

Opponents of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) controversial stop-and-frisk policy were handed a pivotal victory Wednesday as a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit challenging the policy may move forward with class-action status — opening the door for numerous others to join the lawsuit.


In her decision, Judge Shira Schendlin called the case (Floyd et al v. City of New York) "an issue of great public concern" given the disproportionate number of Latinos and Blacks who become ensnared in the criminal justice system as a result of the stops. The stop-and-frisk policy allows officers to question and frisk (or pat down) anyone they deem suspicious, without a warrant.

“The court has rightly recognized that illegal stops-and-frisks are not limited to a few rogue police officers but are the product of a program designed at the highest level of the police department and affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of New Yorkers,” Darius Charney, staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and the lead lawyer in the lawsuit, said in a statement.

The plaintiffs are seeking to receive a declaration from the court that the police department’s policies and practices related to stop-and-frisks violate the constitutional rights of New Yorkers, and an order forcing the NYPD to stop their current stop and frisk practices and to make significant changes in the way the police department conducts street stops.

In 2011, the NYPD reported a record 685,724 stops — a 600 percent increase since 2002 when the NYPD Commissioner post changed hands. Out of all recorded stops, 87 percent were Black or Latino, and 88 percent of persons stopped were not arrested for any crime as a result of the search.


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