Allowing a suit, Judge Scheindlin criticizes the NYPD’s ‘cavalier attitude’ to stop-and-frisk complaints

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A federal judge's decision to grant class-action status to four black men who sued the New York Police Department after being stopped-and-frisked is being cheered by critics who say the department's behavior needs to be changed.

In a statement, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling today is "a wake-up call" and that the policy "cries out for immediate reform."

In her ruling, Scheindlin said there is "overwhelming and indisputable evidence" that "the NYPD has a department-wide stop and frisk program." She also said the rise in the number of stop-and-frisks is a direct result of orders given by the NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly and his top aides, rather than a natural response to individual incidents in the street.

"In a recent Operations Order," Scheindlin wrote, "Commissioner Kelly directed all commands that 'Department managers can and must set performance goals,' relating to 'the issuance of summonses, the stopping and questioning of suspicious individuals, and the arrests of criminals.'"

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The judge also criticized the NYPD's response, saying it reflected insufficient respect for the severity of the allegations.

"Defendants' cavalier attitude towards the prospect of a 'widespread practice of suspicionless stops' displays a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers' most fundamental constitutional rights," Scheindlin wrote.

A longtime critic of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practice, Assemblyman Keith Wright of Harlem, issued a statement calling on the NYPD "to do the right thing and end the discriminatory practices of racial profiling through deleterious 'Stop and Frisk' tactics."