New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) made good on a central campaign promise on Thursday, moving to drop the city’s appeal of a judge’s ruling deeming the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program unconstitutional. The case will now go back to the lower court, where the city can hammer out the details of how to implement reforms.
Judge Shira Scheindlin determined police illegally targeted minorities through stop and frisk last August, calling it a form of racial profiling. She ordered that an independent monitor oversee efforts to reform the New York Police Department. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg appealed the ruling in the twilight hours of his term.
Now that his successor has dropped it, the city has reached an agreement with the stop-and-frisk plaintiffs to install a monitor for at least three years. During this three-year process, communities that have been most affected by stop-and-frisk will be invited to contribute to the reforms. After the three year period, the newly created oversight position of Inspector General will take over.
De Blasio announced the deal at a community center in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, a predominantly black area that has endured the highest concentration of police stops. “This will be one city, where everyone’s rights are respected, and where police and community stand together to confront violence,” the mayor declared.
De Blasio’s NYPD Commissioner, Bill Bratton, noted recently that stops already plummeted 60 percent in 2013, which may make it easier to phase out the practice as a core part of police work.
The reform process is only just starting up, but the mayor has a long way to go to repair community relations with the NYPD. A recent study by the Vera Institute of Justice found that stop-and-frisk has directly damaged trust of police and dissuaded young people from reporting crimes.