A federal judge sharply critical of New York City police tactics granted class-action status to a lawsuit claiming officers’ stop-and-frisk policy discriminates against blacks and Latinos.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan said in a written ruling that there was “overwhelming evidence” that the centralized stop-and-frisk program led to thousands of unlawful stops. She noted that the vast majority of New Yorkers who are unlawfully stopped will never file a lawsuit in response, and she said class-action status was created for just these kinds of court cases.
The ruling comes on the heels of last weekend’s revelation by the Police Department that it made 601,055 street stops of potential suspects last year, with about 10 percent of the stops resulting in arrests. In 2009, there were 575,304 stops. Police conducted more than 200,000 frisk searches in the first three months of this year, it said.
The lawsuit alleged that the Police Department purposefully engaged in a widespread practice of concentrating its stop-and-frisk activity on black and Latino neighborhoods based on their racial composition rather than legitimate non-racial factors. The lawsuit said officers are pressured to meet quotas as part of the program and are punished if they do not.
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