The reform of New York City’s stop-and-frisk program took greater clarity when a federal judge appointed a facilitator to assist in monitoring police practices of detaining citizens.
Judge Shira Scheindlin appointed Nicholas Turner, the president of the Vera Institute of Justice, to work to develop reforms to the stop-and-frisk program, which Schieindlin last month ruled to violate the constitutional rights of African-American and Latino New Yorkers.
“I am deeply honored to have been appointed by Judge Scheindlin to serve as facilitator in New York City’s efforts to develop thoughtful and sustainable reforms to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices,” Turner said.
“I look forward to working together with local communities, the NYPD, and other stakeholders in New York City on this important process. I believe that we all share the same goal: to feel that we and our families are safe in our homes and out on our streets.“
The appointment of Turner came just as New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg went to court to prevent a law from being enacted that would make it easier for citizens to sue the city for complaints of racial profiling.
The mayor had long indicated that he would sue to block the law, which was passed by the City Council over his veto.
"It is intended to be a uniform and complete set of laws for the entire state" and city lawmakers have no business setting their own, the mayor's lawyers wrote in the state Supreme Court suit.
The issues of stop-and-frisk and racial profiling have become highly significant in New York, which is in the midst of a crowded race to succeed Bloomberg in City Hall.
Bloomberg has strongly defended stop-and-frisk as an important crime-fighting measure. On the other hand, many elected officials and civil rights organizations have harshly criticized the program, which they have characterized as being little more than legalized racial profiling,
The issue became the subject of a lengthy federal suit and Scheindlin ruled that the stop-and-frisk represented a constitutional violation, although she did not call for an outright end to the program.
Turner will work closely with Peter Zimroth, who Scheindlin appointed as the monitor of the police practice.
Scheindlin stated that Turner has a track record of success in dealing with issues related to police offices and local citizens. A graduate of the Yale Law School, Turner has “initiated and managed projects on racial profiling in prosecution; safety in America’s prisons; sentencing reform; juvenile justice, and domestic violence,” the judge wrote.
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