Chief-Leader
January 6, 2014

 

Police Unions Strive To Keep ‘Stop’ Appeal Alive

Despite Mayor’s Intention

By MARK TOOR

Mayor de Blasio last week restated his campaign promise to drop the city’s appeal of the Federal court decision declaring the way the NYPD ran stop-and-frisk to be unconstitutional. But ending the appeal might not be so easy.

Edward D. Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said his union filed papers weeks ago seeking to intervene in the appeal of Floyd v. New York, hoping to keep it alive in case Mr. de Blasio decided to end it. Mr. Mullins said the appeals court approved the intervention.

‘We’re Going Forward’

“Whether he drops it or not, we’re going forward with it,” Mr. Mullins told THE CHIEF-LEADER. “He can’t just shove things down our throat.”

In a separate action, the four other police unions also sought to intervene in the appeal. An attorney for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association wrote a letter to the appeals court Dec. 30 urging it to rule on the request before Mr. de Blasio can end the appeal.

A PBA spokesman said that after Mr. de Blasio confirmed his intention to drop the appeal, the union’s president, Patrick J. Lynch, instructed its attorney to tell the court the decision was needed urgently.

Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the plaintiffs that brought the lawsuit at issue, said the unions have no standing to intervene.

Calls Unions Obstructionist

“It is very unfortunate that now that the city is willing at long last to make the stop-and-frisk reforms which so many New Yorkers have been calling for, the police unions want to prevent that from happening,” he said.

The unions argue that they can indeed intervene because the remedies ordered by U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin affect training, discipline, work assignments and other issues of interest to their members.

The PBA’s motion said public employers are forbidden from unilaterally changing contract provisions arising from mandatory subjects of collective bargaining, such as training.

Cites Practical Impact

The SBA motion agreed, saying, “Such reforms likely will directly affect SBA members by increasing their workload and affecting staffing and employee safety, practical impacts that are mandatory subjects of collective bargaining under New York law. The city is required to negotiate with the SBA regarding matters that have a practical effect on Sergeants’ workload, staffing, safety, and other matters that may be affected by city decisions.”

Judge Scheindlin ruled in August that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program was unconstitutional, saying that at least 200,000 people among the 4.5 million stopped were not targeted for the proper reasons. Further, she said, the department engaged in a type of racial profiling, concentrating on stopping young black and Latino men because they are most frequently suspects in violent crimes.

The 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision that approved stop-and-frisk, Terry v. Ohio, found that officers can stop someone only if they suspect he is involved in, was just a part of, or is about to commit a crime. Opponents of the NYPD’s program argued that stops were driven not by these suspicions but by precinct commanders who set unrealistically high quotas in an attempt to convince their bosses they were being tough on crime.

Mayor Bloomberg and his Police Commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, contended that stop-and-frisk was an important tool for bringing violent crime, particularly homicides, to record low levels. They appealed the case, and the appeals court put Judge Scheindlin’s remedies, including a Federal monitor, on hold pending a decision and removed her from the case because of a possible perception that she was biased.