Inside NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Practice: Floyd v City of New York

Well underway in U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan is the landmark civil trial challenging the constitutionality of NYPD’s “Stop, Question and Frisk” policy.   The lawsuit, Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al., filed by the Center For Constitutional Rights, claims the NYPD policy is unconstitutional and unfairly targets Blacks and Latinos. (“Stop, Question and Frisk” is an NYPD policy; it is not law.)

The trial began on March 18 and is expected to continue through April.  The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages, but seeks systemic reform of the NYPD stop and frisk practices.

During last week’s session, several witnesses exposed NYPD’s practices, tactics and mandates specifically targeting Black and Latino communities.

Story Highlights:

  • Revealing testimony
  • Synopsis of lawsuit, including video
  • History of stop and frisk
  •  2013 NYC Mayoral race:  connecting the dots with stop and frisk

Via, with Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman:

One of the biggest revelations in the trial came earlier this week when a former New York City police captain testified the NYPD intentionally targeted African-American and Latino men in a bid to, quote, “instill fear.” New York State Senator Eric Adams, who served in the department for more than two decades, recalled a meeting he had in 2010 with New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. According to Adams, Kelly said, quote, “He stated that he targeted and focused on that group because he wanted to instill fear in them that every time that they left their homes they could be targeted by police.”

Commissioner Kelly has denied making the remarks, but recently reiterated his belief that stop and frisk is an important crime-fighting tool. Speaking at the National Action Network convention on Wednesday, Kelly said, quote, “I believe that this tactic is lifesaving. It is also lawful and constitutional.”

An Unidentified Speaker in a secret NYPD Recording: If you get too big of a crowd there, you know, they’re going to get out of control, and they’re going to think that they own the block. We own the block. They don’t own the block, alright? They might live there, but we own the block, alright? We own the streets here.

A Precinct Supervisor: First and foremost, we need more activity, alright? The CO wants more activity. The SO wants more activity. The borough is monitoring the activity sheets. So, if your activity falls below par, they’re going to have either you or I or the sergeant or the CO have to explain what’s going on, alright? So, let’s not let it get that far, alright? Please, everyone, just pick your activity up a little bit. I spoke to numerous of you already along the lines last week, the week before, last month. Alright? You know who you are. Just make that—pick it up a little bit, because we don’t want to have to go to the borough and explain anything.

The Lawsuit: Floyd v City of New York 

via Center For Constitutional RightsFloyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. is a federal class action lawsuit filed against the New York City Police Department that charges the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks of law-abiding New York City residents. According to CCR attorneys, the named plaintiffs in CCR’s case – David Floyd, David Ourlicht, Lalit Clarkson, and Deon Dennis – represent the thousands of New Yorkers who have been stopped without any cause on the way to work, in front of their house, or just walking down the street. CCR and the plaintiffs allege that the NYPD unlawfully stopped these individuals because they are men of color.

Photo via Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Photo via Malcolm X Grassroots Movement


History Stop and Frisk

Stop and Frisk is not a new law enforcement practice in New York City.   However, criticism of the police department practice under the Bloomberg administration has increased.  See a timeline of Stop and Frisk at

NYC 2013: Mayors Appoint Commissioners 

Each mayor of New York City appoints their pick for police commissioner.  Rudy Guiliani appointed commissioners William Bratton, Howard Safir and Bernie Kerik.  Kerik is currently serving a prison sentence for corruption.  Former mayor David Dinkins appointed William Bratton and Raymond Kelly.

New York City’s next mayor will appoint a new police commissioner, or determine if the current Commissioner, Ray Kelly, should continue.  Already, he has served two mayors, and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn has said she may keep Kelly if she is elected.

Raymond Kelly is a popular and respected police commissioner – particularly among the city’s Black clergy, with congregations in areas targeted by Stop and Frisk and police shooting of unarmed men.

In electing a new mayor, New York City voters will effectively elect a new police commissioner, or, perhaps keep the current chief.

No precinct saw more police stops in 2011 than the 75th in the Brooklyn, NY neighborhood of East New York, and no patrol sector in the 7-5 had more encounters than Sector E. This infograph looks at the stops and outcomes.

NYPD Stop and Frisk: Police Stop & Outcomes-East New York


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