Monday, March 23, 2015 5:00 pm

Judge Gives Say To PBA and SBA On ‘Frisk’ Policy Reform

By Mark Toor

PATRICK J. LYNCH: ‘Will be closely involved.’  

The Federal Judge overseeing the stop-and-frisk litigation last week welcomed efforts by two police unions to participate in the reform process, but not on the timetable they had sought.

The March 19 decision by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres deals with a Federal Monitor appointed by the previous Judge on the case, Shira A. Scheindlin, to work out changes in procedures, supervision, reporting, training and discipline involving the department’s stop-and-frisk policies.

‘Important Perspective’

The initial task of the monitor, Peter L. Zimroth, a litigator who was a Chief Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan and former Mayor Edward I. Koch’s Corporation Counsel, is to consult with all the parties involved, “carefully consider each side’s perspective, harmonize their views where possible and, as soon as practicable, propose final recommendations to the court,” Judge Torres wrote.

“By letters dated March 4 and March 6, 2014, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeants’ Benevolent Association ask to participate in the reform process by presenting their views after the monitor submits his final recommendations,” her order said. “The court believes the unions’ ‘important perspective on these matters’ should be heard earlier.”

She accepted a proposal by de Blasio-administration attorneys under which “the city will share proposals with the unions before providing them to the monitor and the plaintiffs. The unions may then offer their comments, which the city will convey to the monitor. The city will continue to confer with the unions about substantial revisions proposed by the monitor and the plaintiffs. This approach affords the unions ‘a practical opportunity’ to inform the monitor of their viewpoints before the monitor reaches conclusions and submits final recommendations to the court.”

PBA ‘Pleased’

“We are pleased that the court recognized the important role of the PBA in the process and provided for the input of the union prior to any final decisions regarding implementation are made by the monitor,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement. “We will continue to be closely involved in the process, and will invoke all of the union’s rights, including those that were recognized by the appellate court, in the event that the union’s lawful interests are impacted in the process.”

“The voices of police officers are also part of the Floyd remedial process,” said Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the Department of Law. “The NYPD will consult with the police unions—one of many stakeholders in this case—as the city develops materials for submission to the court as a part of the remedial process.”

Judge Scheindlin ruled in August 2013 in the class-action suit Floyd vs. New York that the NYPD’s aggressive use of stop-and-frisk under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg was unconstitutional. She found that officers had made hundreds of thousands of stops without the justification required by the U.S. Supreme Court: that the person being stopped appears to be involved in criminal activity.

Dropped His Appeal

Mr. Bloomberg, who considered stop-and-frisk key to the decline in crime during his 12 years in office, appealed the decision. Mayor de Blasio, who opposed what he called the overuse of stop-and-frisk, dropped the appeal.

The unions had sought to intervene in the appeal as a way of keeping it alive, but the courts rejected their efforts. Judge Torres has now invited them into the reform process.