A federal judge on Tuesday lifted her order that the New York Police Department stop conducting some “stop and frisk” searches of people outside of privately owned residential buildings in the city’s Bronx borough.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin agreed to lift her Jan. 8 order at the request of the police department, saying compliance with it might impose “significant burdens” on police.
Scheindlin had ruled on Jan. 8 that some stop and frisk searches in the Bronx related to an anti-crime program once known as “Operation Clean Halls” must be halted immediately because they violated constitutional protections.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had said the decision “unnecessarily interferes with the Department’s efforts to use all of the crime-fighting tools necessary to keep Clean Halls buildings safe and secure.”
The Jan. 8 order came in a lawsuit filed by a group of black and Latino residents in the Bronx who contend the stop and frisk tactics, in which the police stop people they suspect of unlawful activity and frisk those they suspect are carrying weapons, violate the Constitution.
Defenders of the tactics, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say the police practices have helped to reduce crime.
The judge delayed her Jan. 8 order until she decides on broader remedies in the Bronx case and until after a trial in a stop and frisk class-action case set for March 11. She denied a separate police department request to delay the trial in the class action, which accuses police of racial profiling.
“We believe the court correctly lifted the immediate relief it had ordered,” Heidi Grossman, a spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department, said in a statement.
The city is appealing the judge’s Jan. 8 order, which ordered an end to the stops unless police officers have “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is engaged in criminal activity.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represents the plaintiffs in the case, said Tuesday’s ruling affirmed the judge’s prior findings “and it may well expedite the final remedy process for dealing with the abuse of stop-and-frisk for all New Yorkers in a more efficient way.”