Making good on his campaign promise to end New York City's stop-and-frisk policy, newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio announced reforms to end the controversial NYPD practice Thursday. In an effort to reverse the program so strongly advocated by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio said he will settle a long-standing legal battle and drop the appeal of a federal judge's ruling that deemed the tactics unconstitutional. The mayor is known for his staunch opposition to stop-and-frisk, which involves police officers detaining and searching New Yorkers for weapons and other contraband.
The practice has raised questions on racial profiling and citizens' privacy rights. On Thursday, de Blasio said the policies had "unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men" and said a monitor will be appointed in the city for three years to oversee reforms.
De Blasio supported the proposed settlement by saying that 90 percent of those who were interrogated were innocent. City residents complaining of unlawful treatment filed lawsuits. In response, an August 2013 decision by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin found that the searches, performed without a warrant, violated citizens' constitutional rights. Under her ruling, she called for an independent monitor to implement changes to “policies, training, supervision, monitoring and discipline regarding stop-and-frisk.”
Naturally, then-mayor Bloomberg appealed the decision, resulting in Scheindlin's orders being blocked. But de Blasio's in charge now, and he's looking to make drastic changes. Newly appointed Police Commissioner Bill Bratton recently announced a major dip in the number of stop-and-frisk cases. As Bustle reported:
There were more than 533,000 stop-and-frisk incidents in 2012, but “only” 194,000 last year — a 60 percent decrease. This is the second straight year that the number of stops-and-frisks has declined, as there were over 685,000 in 2011.
Following the judge's orders, lawyer Peter Zimroth will serve as monitor to the program under the proposal. In a news conference, de Blasio said the reforms will "turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city.” However, it isn't smooth sailing for the mayor just yet, as the decision isn't final. The city asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to return the matter to a lower court. A new judge will be asked to approve the agreement. Police unions have until Feb. 7 to challenge the request.