The ruling by a federal appeals court to block the widespread changes to the controversial stop and frisk program of the New York Police Department has drawn a widespread disappointment and criticism from elected officials and activists.
“We shouldn't have to wait for reforms that both keep our communities safe and obey the Constitution,” said Bill de Blasio, New York City’s Public Advocate and the Democratic candidate for mayor, expressing his disappointment with the decision.
“We have to end the overuse of stop and frisk ― and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect," de Blasio said.
On Thursday, the appeals court stopped the implementation of a number of reforms to the stop and frisk plan that were ordered by Judge Shira Scheindlin. They will be stayed pending the outcome of an appeal by the city of New York.
The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had appealed the decisions of Judge Scheindlin, arguing that the stop and frisk program was a central plank in its strategy to fight violent crime in New York City.
Some officials said that the decision represented at most a delay in the implementing the reforms, including naming a monitor to oversee how the controversial policing tactic is applied.
“I think the opponents' supports of stop and frisk are celebrating prematurely,” said Letitia James, a City Councilwoman from Brooklyn and the Democratic nominee for New York City Public Advocate.
“This decision was a procedural setback,” she said, in an interview with BET.com. “And the overwhelming evidence is that, when it’s heard by another judge, it will result in the conclusion that the policy is unconstitutional and an illegal violation of the rights of citizens.”
But the program has been harshly criticized by a large number of New Yorkers as amount to little more than state-sanctioned racial profiling. The issue was a dominant on in this year’s election for mayor, and de Blasio has called for significant reforms in the policy.
Apart from the mayoral nominee, officials and community groups responded with disappointment to the appeals court decision.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Joo-Hyun Kangm the spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. “This delay to reforming the city’s stop-and-frisk program will be to the detriment of communities and New Yorkers throughout our city who have routinely had their rights violated and been made to fear both crime and the police.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)