In a major blow to NYPD’s stop and frisk program, Federal judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the City had a municipal policy to illegally stop and frisk African Americans and Latinos who were present in and around Operation “Clean Halls” buildings.
Operation Clean Halls is a program whereby landlords in private buildings post permission to police officers to enter the building to patrol. After hearing from numerous victims of false arrests, a Bronx Assistant District Attorney who admitted that police were arresting people who were committing no crimes and putting them through the system, and from police officers, whom the judge found to be untruthful under oath, Judge Scheindlin concluded that the practice of illegally stopping and frisking and falsely arresting people for Trespassing were not isolated incidents, but an actual police policy, and granted the plaintiff’s application for an injunction against NYPD.
First let’s clear up a misconception. Stop and frisk is a police procedure that is permitted by the Constitution IF — and in New York City, that’s a big if — if an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime. The question is not whether stop and frisk is unconstitutional, the question is whether stop and frisk is practiced by cops in a Constitutional manner, that is performed only when the cop has reasonable suspicion or probable cause. African American and Latino males visit our civil rights law firm every day telling us stories about a stop and frisk where the cop had no reasonable suspicion whatsoever, it’s simply a targeting of Black and Latino males. Often, the contact escalates into false arrests and acts of police brutality.
So it is heartening to hear a federal court judge acknowledge the truth, that at least in the context of Operation Clean Halls, police officers routinely violate the rights of Black and Latino men. And furthermore, the top brass at NYPD and City officials know about it, but do not do anything to stop it. He said entering or exiting or being present inside a Clean Halls building does not make a person a suspect, and does not make a person a trespasser. A round of applause today for Judge Shira Scheindlin.
Here’s Judge Scheindlin’s opinion of the officers’ testimony
Police Officer Miguel Santiago — credibility undermined by his own sworn complaint
Police Officer Kieron Ramdeen — “I did not find Officer Ramdeen’s testimony credible…”
Sergeant Robert Musick — Judge Scheindlin writes of a part of his testimony it “makes no more sense than refusing to search in a drawer for a pair of striped socks because one cannot remember what color shoes they match.”