Safe Streets, Overruled By Heather McDonald of the City Journal

A judge’s appalling decision will endanger New York’s most vulnerable residents.

New York’s 20-year reprieve from debilitating violence may well be over. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York Police Department has been willfully targeting blacks and Hispanics for unlawful stop, question, and frisks based on their skin color alone, in violation of the Constitution. She appointed a federal monitor to oversee the department and to develop new policies to end its allegedly biased policing practices. If the monitor adopts Judge Scheindlin’s definition of unconstitutional policing, it’s not too soon for New Yorkers to start looking into relocation plans.

The key part of Scheindlin’s ruling is her discussion of the stops performed by one of the NYPD’s hardest-working members. Over a three-month period in 2009, the high-crime Fort Greene area of Brooklyn had seen a spate of robberies, burglaries, and gun violence. The robbery victims described their assailants as four to five black males between the ages of 14 and 19; the burglary victims reported the suspect as a Hispanic male in his thirties between five foot eight and five foot nine; and the shooting suspect was described as a black male in his twenties. During that three-month period, Officer Edgar Gonzalez of Brooklyn’s 88th Precinct conducted 134 stops, 128 of which involved black or Hispanic subjects. That stop ratio is consistent not only with the specific crime patterns then afflicting Fort Greene, but also with the overall crime rate in Gonzalez’s precinct. Blacks and Hispanics commit nearly 99 percent of all violent crime in the 88th Precinct and over 93 percent of all crime. In terms of sheer volume, few officers come anywhere close to Gonzalez’s absolute number of stops. (The allegedly draconian stop “quotas” about which the plaintiffs’ attorneys and a few underperforming cops complained during the trial set roughly two stops per month as a performance goal for officers.)

Continue reading this important piece on Stop and Frisk at City Journal

The result is not only an insult to the most effective, professionally run police department in the country. It may also signal the end of the freedom from fear that New York’s most vulnerable residents have enjoyed for two decades.