Stop and Frisk Update: Court blocks ruling that required changes to NYPD tactics, removes judge

In this June 17, 2012 file photo, Rev. Al Sharpton, center, walks with thousands along Fifth Avenue, during a silent march to end the "stop-and-frisk" program in New York.
In this June 17, 2012 file photo, Rev. Al Sharpton, center, walks with thousands along Fifth Avenue, during a silent march to end the "stop-and-frisk" program in New York.
AP Photo/ Seth Wenig
(CBS/AP) NEW YORK (AP) - A judge's order that required changes to the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk program was blocked by a federal appeals court on Thursday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the previous ruling of Judge Shira Scheindlin will be stayed, pending the outcome of an appeal by the city. The appeals court also removed the judge saying she failed to avoid the appearance of impartiality.

Judge Scheindlin had ruled in August that New York City violated the Constitution in how it conducts its program of stopping and questioning people. The city appealed her findings and her remedial orders, including a decision to assign a monitor to help the police department change its policy and the training program associated with it.

The appeals court said the judge needed to be removed in part due to a series of media interviews and statements in which she responded publicly to criticism of the court, in violation of the code of conduct for U.S. judges.

Judge Scheindlin's ruling, now stayed, found that NYPD officers violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men with the stop-and-frisk program. She appointed an outside monitor to oversee major changes, and she ordered a pilot program to test body-worn cameras in some precincts where most stops occur.

Thursday's decision is not a ruling on the constitutionality of the department stop-and-frisk program as a whole, which has been criticized by civil rights advocates.

Stop-and-frisk has been around for decades in some form, but recorded stops increased dramatically under the administration of independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg to an all-time high in 2011 of 684,330, mostly of black and Hispanic men. A lawsuit was filed in 2004 by four men, all minorities, and became a class action case.

Supporters of changes to the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program say the changes will end unfair practices, will mold a more trusted and effective police force and can affect how other police departments use the policy. Opponents say the changes would lower police morale but not crime, waste money and not solve a broader problem of a police force under pressure after shrinking by thousands of officers during the last decade.

Complete coverage of the Stop and Frisk policy on Crimesider


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