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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly today issued two new department orders which could sharply effect the way police execute the stop and frisk program.
The orders come a day after a federal judge broadened a class action lawsuit filed to force the department to discontinue its stop and frisk campaign. The decision allows hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to seek legal recourse if they believe they were unlawfully stopped.
In her decision, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin was critical of the police, writing that she was disturbed by the Bloomberg administration’s “deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.” She also said that the city had a “cavalier attitude,” and that “suspicionless stop should never occur.”
The first order essentially reemphasizes the department long-held position that racial profiling is prohibited and notes, “Members of the service are reminded that the NYPD is committed to the impartial enforcement of law and the protection of constitutional rights.”
The second and more interesting of the orders states that from now on, the second-in-command or executive officer in all 76 precincts and every special unit in the 34,000-officer department must personally review all stop and frisk reports, which are known as UF-250s.
What does that mean? NYPD sources say the order not only places a huge new burden on those executive officers, it likely will put pressure on police officers to be much more careful about their stops, and thus, reduce the overall number of stops, which has skyrocketed in recent years.
“If you get a description of a guy with a black jacket, and you stop someone in a green jacket, you’re going to hear about it from your boss, because he’ll have Internal Affairs and the Quality Assurance Division on his back,” a police source says.
The new policy will also reduce the practice of writing “ghost 250s,” in which cops make up a stop just to make a quota, the source says. The existence of “ghost 250s” and 250 quotas wasreported in the Voice‘s NYPD Tapes series.
The NYPD made more than 200,000 stops in the first three months of 2012, putting it on pace to set a new record for one year. Some 2.8 million people have been stopped and frisked since 2002.