NEW YORK (AP) — New York police must stop making trespass stops outside certain privately owned Bronx apartment buildings without reasonable suspicion, a judge ordered Tuesday, saying the department crossed the line into unconstitutional practices.
Black and Latino residents have sued the city, claiming that police have a widespread practice of making unlawful stops on suspicion of trespass outside buildings in the Bronx that are part of a program that allows police officers to patrol inside and around private residential buildings. The ruling is an interim order before a trial on the lawsuit.
It is not enough for a police officer to have a non-specific suspicion or hunch about a person to perform a stop and frisk, said U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan. The plaintiffs have said the stops left them feeling violated, disrespected, angry and defenseless, she noted.
She said the plaintiffs who presented evidence at a hearing over several days in October and November had shown a clear likelihood of proving that the city had displayed deliberate indifference toward a widespread practice of unconstitutional trespass stops by the police department outside the private Bronx buildings.
“While it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops” outside the Bronx buildings, she said.
“For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friends and families, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat,” she said. “In light of the evidence presented at the hearing, however, I am compelled to conclude that this is the case.”