Federal Judge Orders Major Reforms to NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practices

August 12, 2013 —  In major rulings in two class-action lawsuits, a federal judge today ordered the NYPD to take a series of steps to ensure that its officers conduct stop-and-frisk encounters in a manner that will protect New Yorkers’ civil rights and civil liberties. The judge also ordered the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the implementation of these reforms.

The NYCLU hailed the decision by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin a major victory for New Yorkers and for fair, just and effective policing by the nation’s largest police force.

"We welcome the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the much-needed reform of NYPD stop-and-frisk practices and we look forward the broad process of community engagement that the court has ordered to formulate fundamental reforms of stop-and-frisk," NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. "With this step, the victims of this illegal and biased program have become central players in cleaning up the program."

"Today’s decision ordering changes not only to the general stop-and-frisk program, but also to the separate program of trespass stops at private residential buildings shows that every aspect of stop-and-frisk must be reformed," NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said. "This marks the beginning of a top-to-bottom revamping of stop-and-frisk.”

Today’s opinions by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin cover two cases: Floyd v. City of New York, the class action lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging constitutional abuses in the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program and Ligon v. City of New York, a class action lawsuit filed by the NYCLU in March 2012 with The Bronx Defenders, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Shearman & Sterling, challenging the NYPD’s enforcement of Operation Clean Halls – a citywide program within the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk regime that allows police officers to patrol in and around certain private apartment buildings.

In a January 8, 2013, ruling in the Ligon case, Judge Scheindlin granted plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction ordering the NYPD to immediately cease its practice of unlawful trespass stops outside Clean Halls buildings in the Bronx.

In one ruling issued today in the Floyd case, Judge Scheindlin declared that the NYPD’s general stop-and-frisk practices have violated the civil liberties and constitutional rights of all New Yorkers, citing the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, which protect individuals against unlawful searches and seizures and guarantee equal protection under the law. In a second ruling, she ordered remedies covering both the Floyd and Ligon cases, including the appointment of a monitor to implement broad reforms.