A judge who ruled New York’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy
was unconstitutionalhas ordered the NYPD to make a number of changes — one of which involves putting body cameras on cops.
Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a separate “remedies opinion” to ensure NYPD cops no longer stop New Yorkers in a way that violates their Constitutional rights.
Perhaps the most interesting remedy she orders is a pilot program requiring cops in one precinct in every borough — the one with the most stops in 2012 — to wear body cameras for a year.
Cameras will provide an objective record of exactly what happened during a stop and alleviate New Yorkers’ fears that if they complain about a stop it would be their word against the police’s, Sheindlin wrote.
“The recordings may either confirm or refute the belief of some minorities that they have been stopped simply as a result of their race, or based on the clothes they wore, such as baggie pants or a hoodie,” she wrote.
At the end of the pilot year, the NYPD will have to decide whether the costs of the body cameras outweigh the benefits. During the trial challenging stop-and-frisk, the city’s policing expert James K. Stewart testified that body cameras are a “good idea” that’s been recommended in Las Vegas and Phoenix.
New York’s “stop and frisk” policy comes from a 1968 Supreme Court decision that says it’s OK for cops to stop people on the street if they suspect they’re about to commit a crime.
In New York, the vast majority of people stopped are black and Hispanic, stoking fear and distrust of the police in many low-income neighborhoods.
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