A major decision by federal Judge Shira Scheindlin could transform the criminal justice system.
The policy known as stop-and-frisk allowed police to stop, question and frisk persons they deemed "reasonably suspect" of committing a crime.
“The frisk is only authorized if the officer has a fear that the individual is in a potential position to harm the officer or innocent people in the surrounding area," former New York City Police Commisioner Bill Bratton, who helped devise the program, has said. "There are strict guidelines as to how all this is supposed to be done, how it's supposed to be documented.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration has claimed that the practice saved lives, and vowed to appeal the ruling.
“The fact that fewer guns are on the street now shows that our efforts have been successful," said Bloomberg in response to the ruling. "And there is just no question that stop, question, frisk has saved countless lives. And we know that most of those lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men”
Judge Scheindlin likened the practice to “indirect racial profiling” that targeted minority youth for stops—she has assigned an outside monitor to oversee reform of the NYPD.
The decision is likely to have sweeping effects all across the country.