Mayor de Blasio gathered community members in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on Thursday to announce that he has reached an agreement with the civil rights lawyers who challenged the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices, allowing some of the reforms ordered by federal District Judge Shira Scheindlin last summer to be carried out.
The reforms including the appointment of a federal monitor were appealed by former Mayor Bloomberg when Scheindlin found that the city’s policies were unconstitutional and often led the NYPD to resort to “a policy of indirect racial profiling.”
“This is a defining moment in our history,” said de Blasio. “It’s a defining moment for millions of our families, especially those with young men of color. And it will lay the foundation for not only keeping us the safest big city in America, but making us safer still. This will be one city, where everyone’s rights are respected, and where police and community stand together to confront violence.”
The mayor appeared with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in Brownsville — in an eight-block area that had the highest concentration of police stops in the city, according to a 2010 New York Times report — who assured New Yorkers that racial profiling would not be tolerated in the Police Department.
“We will not break the law to enforce the law,” Bratton said. “That’s my solemn promise to every New Yorker, regardless of where they were born, where they live, or what they look like. Those values aren’t at odds with keeping New Yorkers safe — they are essential to long-term public safety. We are committed to fulfilling our obligations under this agreement as we protect and serve this great city.”
Scheindlin was later thrown off the case by the Court of Appeals, which found she lacked the appearance of impartiality. But the accord reached last week means the city’s appeal of her decision will be dropped if certain conditions are met.
Under the new agreement, a court-appointed monitor will serve for three years, overseeing the NYPD’s reform of stop and frisk. The monitor will report to the federal court on the city’s progress in “meeting its obligation to abide by the United States Constitution.”
The city will also take part in a joint process with community stakeholders to ensure people affected by stop and frisk play an active role in shaping reform.
“I am proud to stand with the mayor today for this announcement,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “I believe it’s the right path for the city to take at this time. It is critical that we restore trust and faith in every community in this city and begin to repair relationships. With effective community policing, New York can remain the safest big city in this country, while serving all of its residents with respect.”
The city has already asked the Court of Appeals to remand the case back to District Court.
Both the city’s Law Department and the plaintiffs have agreed to recommend to the court that the monitor will have oversight for three years on the condition that the NYPD is in substantial compliance with the decree. Once the resolution has been confirmed by the District Court, the city will withdraw its appeal.