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New York drops appeal of controversial stop-and-frisk ruling

Posted at 2:31 PM, Jan 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-30 14:31:04-05

(CNN) — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced a settlement in the long legal battle over the police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policies, which a federal judge ruled violated the rights of minorities.

In addition to dropping its appeal of the ruling, the city will implement reforms aimed at improving strained relations between police and the community.

De Blasio, who targeted the policing practice during his mayoral campaign against former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, called the settlement ending the Floyd vs. City of New York case “historic” and said it would close the years-long legal battle that found the overuse of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional. De Blasio said 90% of the people who were stopped and frisked were innocent of any crimes.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” he told reporters. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men. … We believe in one city where everyone rises together, respecting every New Yorker’s rights regardless of what neighborhood they live in or the color of their skin.”

The much-criticized method, in which police stopped and searched those they considered suspicious, had been used to deter crime, the police department said. But it has also resulted in a slew of lawsuits by residents complaining of unlawful stops.

“We will not break the law to enforce the law,” said the new police commissioner, Bill Bratton. “That’s my solemn promise to every New Yorker, regardless of where they were born, where they live or what they look like.”

Under the agreement with plaintiffs who sued the city over the practice, a court-appointed monitor will oversee the New York Police Department’s reform of the policy for three years. The monitor will report to a federal court on the city’s progress in meeting its legal obligation. The city will also take part in a process with community members “to ensure people affected by stop-and-frisk play an active role in shaping reform,” de Blasio said in a prepared statement.

Last year, a federal judge in Manhattan ordered the New York Police Department to halt the stop-and-frisk tactic outside a privately owned Bronx apartment building without first having reasonable suspicion, saying the method had crossed the bounds of what could be considered constitutional.

Police department figures showed that nearly nine out of 10 people “stopped and frisked” in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic. The data showed that of the 685,724 stops made by police that year, 53% of those questioned were black, 34% were Latino, 9% were white and 3% were Asian. The citywide population in 2011 was 23.4% black, 29.4% Hispanic, 12.9% Asian and 34.3% non-Hispanic white, according to the report.