So the judge basically ordered the NYPD to follow the law and the constitution. You'd think that would go without saying, but apparently somebody had to say it. The ruling is well stated and actually pretty mild. It doesn't ban the program or stop and frisks. It bans illegal stop and frisks (which, of course, were already technically illegal).
Of particular note, the judge criticized the check-the-box system in which officers tic, "furtive movements" as a basis for the stop. The NYPD set up this system to make the forms idiot proof. But most cops aren't idiots. And maybe those that are shouldn't be on the street.
It is likely that the NYPD will have to go back to what is generally accepted standard practice everywhere else: articulating in words their reasonable suspicion for a stop. That's the way it should be.
I find it curious that the NYPD defends the system by saying this is what landlords want. It would be a lot better of the program was conducted at the behest of the residents. I don't think most tenants, particularly poor tenants, see their landlords as looking out for the best interests. Landlords own buildings to make money, not to serve the best interests of their tenants.
As a side note, and quite worrisome assuming it's true:
The judge expressed concern over a department training video that she said incorrectly characterized what constituted an actual police stop. In the video, a uniformed narrator states "Usually just verbal commands such as 'Stop! Police!' will not constitute a seizure."To say only that this "misstates the law" is quite generous. That the NYPD would incorrectly educate its officers on such a basic issue... well I'd like to think it simply ain't so, Joe.
The narrator explains that the encounter usually qualifies as an actual stop only if the officer takes further steps such as physically subduing a suspect, pointing a gun at him, or blocking his path. "This misstates the law," Judge Scheindlin said of the video, which has been shown to most of the patrol force.
A "stop" (for which reasonable suspicion of crime is needed) occurs when a person cannot or reasonably believes he or she cannot leave. Because it is illegal to disobey a lawful order, reasonable suspicion kicks in the second a cop says "stop" or "come here."
This decision could be a win-win for the police and the community if the NYPD rises to the challenge by discouraging illegal quota-based stops based on "hunches" while continuing to encourages and support officers who perform legal stops. The risk (I think it's a small risk) is that NYPD will know throw up its hands and stop policing. But nothing in this decision bans legal and effective policing.