The trial challenging the NYPD's stop-and-frisk procedures begins today.
Stop and frisk has been widely criticized for violating the human rights of African-American and Latino males, who have been targeted in disproportionate numbers.
"We're putting the NYPD on trial, and the stakes are the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers," said Vincent Warren, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed the suit in 2008 on behalf of four men who said they were wrongly stopped.
The case has since become a class-action suit that seeks a court-appointed monitor to oversee changes to how the police make stops. The trial is expected to last more than a month. Lawyers also plan to play hours of audio tapes made by Adrian Schoolcraft, an officer who was hauled off to a psych ward against his will after he said he refused to fill illegal quotas. His former bosses, including some reassigned after their statements were made public, are also expected.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has already said in earlier rulings that she is deeply concerned about stop and frisk, is not being asked to ban the tactic, since it has been found to be legal. But she does have the power to order reforms, which could bring major changes to how the nation's largest police force and other departments use the tactic.
Street stops have become a New York flashpoint, with mass demonstrations, city council hearings, mayoral candidates calling for reform, and, most recently, days of protests following the fatal police shooting of a teen who authorities say pulled out a gun during a stop.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)