The NYPD really loves its stop and frisk policy. The prospect of randomly stopping
exclusively minorities a random selection of New Yorkers really excites the department. And why not? The practice has done wonders to prevent crime in the city. Well, if you define “crime” as pot possession. Because the policy hasn’t accomplished much of anything else.
Now the constitutionality of the policy is in jeopardy, awaiting a decision from Judge Shira “Don’t Call Me Judy” Scheindlin, the judge the City decided to embarrass by commissioning a report accusing her of bias because the City is incredibly stupid.
When and if (OK, “when”) Judge Scheindlin strikes down the current iteration of the policy, Eric Holder has a suggestion for how to remedy the violation. And Mayor Mike Bloomberg is none too pleased…
The Attorney General’s office filed a brief yesterday outlining one option Judge Scheindlin might consider in awarding injunctive relief:
The News reports that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s office filed a brief yesterday requesting that if the NYPD loses the case and its stop-and-frisk policies are found to be illegal, “the court has wide discretion to enter injunctive relief,” which “may include the appointment of an independent monitor.” … Mayor Bloomberg is reportedly “outraged.”
And we all know what an “outraged” Michael Bloomberg looks like.
Alex Pareene of Salon notes:
The NYPD obviously needs a monitor. The city argues that the department’s own internal affairs bureau is oversight enough, but the IAB has failed to uncover or prosecute an array of recent examples of police misconduct and IAB veterans and plenty of cops who’ve dealt with the bureau say it’s slow, incompetent, and bordering on corrupt. New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board is independent and thorough, but it also has no authority beyond issuing recommendations to the commissioner. A complete lack of accountability and oversight is part of Bloomberg’s governing philosophy, which holds that he should be able to appoint people who answer only to him, and then those people should be in charge forever.
Not only is New York’s IAB suspect, there are rumors (which I’ve been unable to confirm) that the Manhattan District Attorney is moving the office of the prosecutors assigned to these cases from an undisclosed location back to the main office. Placing prosecutors looking into police misconduct back in a building where multiple cops can watch potential informers enter and exit seems like foolhardy.
For all the flack that Eric Holder is taking (and all the flack Assistant AG Thomas Perez is about to get in his Secretary of Labor confirmation hearings), Holder’s handling of civil rights has been aggressive and commendable:
Holder’s Justice Department has actually had a very impressive record on civil rights cases. His Civil Rights Division, led by Thomas Perez, has not hesitated to investigate police departments for misconduct, and it has forced reforms in cities like in New Orleans. In March of this year, Perez announced an investigation into Cleveland police focusing on excessive force. Thomas Perez is decidedly one of the best things about the Obama administration. That he’d push the Justice Department to weigh in on the NYPD case, over the strong objections of Mayor Bloomberg, is laudable, especially because Obama himself has a strange obsession with winning the mayor’s favor.
If she rules against the City, Judge Scheindlin may not accept the DOJ’s offer, but it looks logical on paper. Federal agents pulling rank all over town is sure to make Bloomberg and the NYPD even angrier.
I guess the City doesn’t like being singled out and subjected to humiliating spot searches to guarantee that it’s in full compliance with the law. Go figure.