NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge’s stinging rebuke of the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy as discriminatory could usher in a return to the days of high violent crime rates and end New York’s tenure as “America’s safest big city,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned.
The ruling strikes at the heart of the legacy Bloomberg aims to leave when his third and final term ends this year. He said he would appeal but likely won’t be around long enough to deal with the repercussions.
“This is a dangerous decision made by a judge who I think does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court,” Bloomberg said. “I worry for my kids, and I worry for your kids. I worry for you and I worry for me. Crime can come back any time the criminals think they can get away with things. We just cannot let that happen.”
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin declared Monday that police have intentionally and systematically violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men.
She appointed an outside monitor to oversee major changes to the tactic, including reforms in policies, training and supervision. And she ordered a pilot program to test body-worn cameras in the some of the precincts where most stops occurred.
“The city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” she wrote. “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting ‘the right people’ is racially discriminatory.”
But Bloomberg said police have done exactly what the courts and constitution allow to keep the city safe, reiterating the tactic was one tool that has helped drive down crime to record lows. The ruling could result, he said, in a return to the days of crime and mayhem, when murders hit an all-time high of 2,245 in 1990. Killings hit an all-time low of 418 in 2012.
Scheindlin refused to hear testimony on crime rates, and her ruling skewered the city’s defense of the practice and argument that it effectively polices itself.