In NYPD Stop/Frisk Case, US Dept of Justice Recommends Independent Monitor

Posted: June 14, 2013 in Criminal Law, Police reform
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

An update on my May 22  post on the NYPD stop and frisk case: the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a “statement of interest” in the case to say that if the judge rules against the NYPD, the preferred remedy would be an independent monitor to implement changes and make sure they take root.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reacted by saying that appointing an independent monitor for the NYPD  would be a “terrible idea.”

Independent monitors are common in cases in which the federal government has sued police departments to impose needed reforms to stop patterns or practices of constitutional rights violations in those departments.  For example, police departments in Seattle, Detroit, and East Haven, Connecticut currently have federal monitors; federal monitors have been used in now-completed cases in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and other cities.   Samuel Walker, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska, explained in the Wall Street Journal article that “monitoring the department would entail a team of people who would conduct audits of reports officers must file for every stop…The team would follow up by interviewing officers and their supervisors about the stops and filing reports to the judge.”

The DOJ Statement of Interest is not binding on the judge; in fact, the DOJ is not a party in the lawsuit.  It was simply used by the DOJ to say that IF the judge found the NYPD to have violated the Constitution (she has made no finding yet), the proper remedy for the violation should include an independent monitor.

  1. Bob Stewart says:

    This would seem to be similar to the Negotiated Settlemnt Agreement in Oakland rather than the typical consent decree brought by DOJ.

    I could envision that the Plaintiffs attorney’s, if they win their case, would try to draw up an agreement between themselves and New York City/NYPD that would include monitoring and standards for compliance.

    • Hey, Bob! I agree, this will be similar to the various negotiated settlements. I’m sure the plaintiffs’ attorneys would be game for this process and would try to put together an agreement. The problem is that Bloomberg, Kelly, et al. have made very clear that they can’t live with any independent monitoring. With this DOJ filing, I think the idea is for the message is being put out there for them: get ready, monitoring is coming, whether you like it or not. Perhaps that will bring the city and NYPD to the table, but we’ll have to see.
      Thanks for checking out the blog, Bob. Let me know if you’re going to get to Pittsburgh this summer.

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