New York Daily News

July 31, 2014


 

Judge blocks police unions from getting involved in stop-and-frisk case


Judge Analisa Torres ruled Wednesday that it was ‘untimely’ for the police unions to get involved at the 11th-hour in the long-running litigation. With the challenge out of the way, the overhaul of the tactic and the process of implementing a court-appointed monitor can move forward.

BY JENNIFER FERMINO , DAREH GREGORIAN 
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    
Judge Analisa Torres ruled Wednesday police unions’ intervention in stop-and-frisk litigation was ‘untimely’ and prevented the groups from intervening in the case.  

A federal judge has denied the police unions' bid to intervene in the stop-and-frisk case, paving the way for the city's settlement over the controversial practice to move forward.

In a 105-page decision issued Wednesday, Judge Analisa Torres found the 11th-hour bid by various police unions to get involved in the long-running litigation was "untimely."

The groups didn't have the standing to get involved in the court fight between the city and those who said their constitution rights were violated by the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk in its policing, according to the ruling.

The unions' challenge was the biggest roadblock to enacting a settlement reached between the plaintiffs and the de Blasio administration earlier this year overhauling the way the police use the tactic and agreeing to a court-appointed monitor to make sure those reforms stick.

Mayor de Blasio said the judge’s decision "to formally approve the settlement to resolve the stop-and-frisk litigation is a major step in our efforts to repair police-community relations."

The bitter, years-long court fight between the plaintiffs — minorities who'd been stopped by cops — and the Bloomberg administration resulted in a blistering ruling by Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin last August.

Scheindlin found the NYPD had been abusing the practice, resulting in an unconstitutional "policy of indirect racial profiling."

An appeals court later booted Scheindlin off the case, but her ruling was used as the basis for the settlement by the de Blasio administration that was announced in late January.

The deal calls for retraining officers on the use of stop-and-frisk, and a pilot program for officers in some precincts to wear body cameras. It also calls for the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the process.

Torres ruled the monitor has to stay on for at least three years, and that the city must show it is in "substantial compliance" with the reforms before the monitoring can end.

It's unclear when the settlement might be allowed to go into effect. The judge asked the city to make her aware of any other possible holdups by Aug. 6.

Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented some of the plaintiffs, said the ruling "sets us on the road to beginning a joint reform process that fully engages the community and will bring true accountability to the NYPD."

"Now community groups, faith leaders, unions, and other stakeholders can come to the table and work collaboratively to create a city in which the rights of all New Yorkers are protected," Charney said.

In a statement, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said they'd appeal.

"We disagree with the outcome in the district court inasmuch as it is clear that prior rulings and the proposed settlement of the case will substantially impact NYC police officers."

He noted that part of the settlement calls for the NYPD and the city to work together with advocates to implement reforms, and said "it is unfair and inconceivable that employees would not be allowed in this process."

But another of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Jonathan Moore, said that Scheindlin's order "gives the unions a seat at the table" and there was no need for them to sue to get involved in the first place.

“We urge the police unions in the strongest terms to become a part of the solution to over-policing in this city and work with plaintiffs, the mayor's office and affected communities toward positive change," Moore said.

dgregorian@nydailynews.com