Councilwoman Letitia James, D-35, praised a federal judge's ruling Tuesday that the New York Police Department can no longer implement "stop-and-frisk" outside a private Bronx apartment building, calling the order "a major win for those critical of the department’s stop-and-frisk policy."
A federal judge in Manhattan on Tuesday ordered the New York Police Department to halt a controversial stop-and-frisk tactic outside a privately owned Bronx apartment building without first having reasonable suspicion, saying the method had crossed the bounds of what could be considered constitutional.
Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in Ligon v. the City of New York that reasonable suspicion of trespassing was necessary for such arrests, and acknowledged that the NYPD must determine where to draw the sometimes-ambiguous line between justified and unjustified stops.
However, Scheindlin noted it was unfair for residents and their guests of the building to experience regular, unjustified police stops.
The court’s decision requires that the NYPD create a formal policy that specifies the circumstances in which it is legal to stop a person outside a Trespass Affidavit Program building on a suspicion of trespass. Developed by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, the Trespass Affidavit Program's goal is to seek out trespassers and arrest them on-sight in the interest of public safety.
"It is imperative that the administration and the police department move to make transparent the rationale for street stops, as well as define long-used terms such as ‘furtive movements’," James said in a statement. "The dignity of low-income and minority New Yorkers has— for too long— been considered expendable in exchange for some unproven, unexamined theoretical degree of safety. These practices will continue to undergo legal challenge.”
Ligon v. the City of New York is one of three cases regarding stop-and-frisk before the Manhattan judge.