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De Blasio Says New York Will Settle Suit Over Stop-and-Frisk

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by Publius
Posted January 30, 2014, 5:45 PM

The New York Times reports:

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that New York City had reached an agreement with civil rights lawyers who had challenged the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, which would allow the sweeping reforms ordered by a federal judge last summer to be carried out.

Those changes, which included the appointment of a federal monitor, were blocked last fall after the Bloomberg administration appealed the judge’s rulings, which found that the city’s stop-and-frisk policies were unconstitutional and that the department had resorted to “a policy of indirect racial profiling.”

The judge, Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan, had ruled that the policy resulted in “the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”

But on Thursday, Mayor de Blasio, seeking to fulfill a long-stated campaign pledge that helped to propel his landslide victory, said his administration had taken a major step toward resolving the polarizing dispute that for years had strained relations between the police and minorities.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio said in a news conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”

In announcing the agreement, Mr. de Blasio pledged a “commitment to fix the fundamental problems that enabled stop-and-frisk to grow out of control and violate the rights of innocent New Yorkers.”

The mayor, appearing with Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, chose a symbolic location to make his comments — the Brownsville Recreation Center in Brooklyn.

A 2010 report in The New York Times found that the highest concentration of police stops in the city had occurred in a roughly eight-block area of Brownsville that was predominantly black.

“We will not break the law to enforce the law,” Mr. 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.'’

In a telling sign of the remarkable shift that had taken place, those invited to join Mr. de Blasio included Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and former state senator. Mr. Adams, a former police officer and persistent critic of the stop-and-frisk policy, testified before Judge Scheindlin in the case and clashed frequently on the issue with Mr. Bratton’s predecessor, Raymond W. Kelly.

Judge Scheindlin, in her rulings last August, had mandated remedies to address what she called “the urgent need to curb the constitutional abuses.” . . .

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