New York Daily News

November 7, 2013


 

De Blasio fears spur police unions to try intervening in stop-frisk lawsuit

Mayor Bloomberg has appealed court-ordered reforms, but incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio, who embraces the changes, has pledged to drop the appeal. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is now seeking legal standing to contest reforms.

By Daniel Beekman / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Not so fast, big Bill.

Police unions are seeking legal standing so that they can appeal court-ordered reforms to stop-and-frisk even if incoming mayor Bill de Blasio wants the changes to take effect.

Mayor Bloomberg has appealed the reforms, a legal move that de Blasio, who takes office in January, has pledged to abandon.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said in court papers Thursday that “the potential withdrawal (of the appeal) … will leave police officers and the public without a means to challenge a decision that will have significant impact on both police operations and public safety."

“The outcome of this appeal will directly affect the reputation of all NYC police officers and the daily activities and collective bargaining rights of 29,000 sworn members … including their training discipline and safety," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

But the PBA is not a party to the case and may not be allowed to continue the appeal on its own.

The federal lawsuit challenging the city police department’s practice of stop-and-frisk was brought in 2010 by Hispanic and black plaintiffs who said cops engaged in racial profiling when they stopped, questioned and frisked people who were doing nothing wrong.

In August, Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin found aspects of stop and frisk unconstitutional and ordered reforms, including a court monitor to oversee the changes.

The Bloomberg administration appealed, and last week the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed the reforms until the appeal is complete, citing misconduct by Scheindlin.

The judge struck back Wednesday, asking for an opportunity to defend herself in court.

The police unions previously sought to intervene but made no headway.

“In the absence of intervention, the district court's erroneous rulings might go unrelieved because of (de Blasio's) pledge to dismiss the appeal," lawyers for the unions said in court papers.

The unions said the city has consented to their intervention, while the plaintiffs are opposing it. The de Blasio camp did not immediately return a request for comment.

Darius Charney, a lawyer for the stop-and-frisk plaintiffs, called the unions’ move “a bald political ploy."

He said the cops “just don't have the standing to participate in this appeal."

Scheindlin found the NYPD liable for violating the constitution, not individual cops or their unions, Charney said.

The judge ordered the city and the plaintiffs to seek feedback from cops and other stakeholders, he said, suggesting that the unions should pursue their agenda through that framework instead of trying to horn in on the appeal.

"They're trying to blow up the process," said Charney. "They disagree with the politics of the incoming mayor on this issue. There are some other people in the city who disagree. Should all of them get to file a motion and argue that their public safety is at issue? Where do you draw the line?"

Charney said he "has no idea" whether the 2nd Circuit will allow the unions to join the case.

dbeekman@nydailynews.com

@DBeekman