New York Post Slams Stop/Frisk Panel, Makes Panel Member Chuckle


One of the law professors named to an advisory council in connection with the independent federal monitor of the police department’s stop and frisk strategy says she laughed out loud when she saw today’s New York Post story which dubbed the panel a bunch of “clowns.”


The council was selected by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin to advise her monitor, attorney Peter Zimroth, on changes to the department’s stop and frisk practices. Scheindlin ordered the creation of a monitor at the end of the 9-week trial in Floyd v. City of New York, the landmark case which accused the police of violating the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

Using a composite photo of a squinting academic festooned with NYPD logos and a bunch of blind quotes, the Post characterized the panel as eggheads and armchair quarterbacks. “Sources doubted the professors work would be helpful,” the Post declared. “You have these academic types sitting around over thinking situations without any street experience.”

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The panel is made up of distinguished law professors from law schools at Yale, Brooklyn College, Rutgers, Columbia, Hofstra, Fordham and the City University–many with long experience on civil rights issues. Most of the professors did not return Voice phone calls, or declined to comment.

But Alafair Burke, who is not only a former prosecutor in Portland now teaching at the Hofstra University School of Law but an author of crime novels, said, “The picture made me laugh in the way that that newspaper can make you laugh. I can officially retire now.”

Burke says Scheindlin emailed her and asked her to sit on the panel. “We’re not sure yet what our role will be, we haven’t even met yet,” she says. “I was a prosecutor who has worked with the police in the past, so I hope I can contribute.”

We also talked with the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Darius Charney, the lead lawyer in Floyd v. City of New York, the case that led to the monitor.

“It’s an advisory panel,” he says. “They aren’t going to have any authority to make any decisions. The monitor is going to be making the recommendations. So it’s not too many cooks in the kitchen.” He pointed out that Peter Zimroth, the monitor appointed by Scheindlin is a former prosecutor and a former top lawyer for the city.

The Post coverage went on to blame Scheindlin’s decision for an increase in shootings and a drop in gun seizures between Aug. 8 and Sept. 8. One of the growing canards in the aftermath of Scheindlin’s decision is that somehow police officers will stop doing their jobs because of added oversight.

Charney thinks quite the opposite, and hopes the police unions will see that way, too. “This is a good thing for police officers because at the end of the day, it’s going to make it clear how they are supposed to handle stops, and hopefully it will take away the quota pressure. I think they will enjoy their jobs more because it’s not going to be all about numbers.”

Judge Scheindlin recently nixed the city’s request to stay the imposition of the monitor pending appeal. The city is now presumably preparing an appeal to the second circuit court. Charney says the CCR will oppose the appeal.

As for the police unions, evidently, they don’t think the monitor is such a good idea. All five police unions have filed papers to intervene in the case. The unions previously were sharp critics of the NYPD’s quota policies.

Explains Al O’Leary, spokesman for the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association: “Our opposition to the federal monitor was based on it being another level of expensive oversight that would be wasteful and is not needed. Money spent on the federal monitor would be better off spent on hiring more police officers. We contend that hiring more cops and eliminating quotas for police activities, including stop and frisks, would solve the problem.

Referring to Police Commissioner Kelly’s program of flooding high crime areas with rookie cops, O’Leary added, “The thought there is that if there were adequate numbers of officers assigned to local commands, then you wouldn’t have to do an Operation Impact with rookies and quotas.”

Finally, a Vera Institute of Justice report issued today found that trust in law enforcement among young people plummeted after being stopped. Some 88 percent of those interviewed for the study said they believe their fellow residents don’t trust the police. Just four in ten said they would seek help from the police and were less willing to report crimes.

Forty-four percent of the youths survey said they had been stopped nine times or more, and fewer than a third said they were informed of the reason for the stop. Each stop in a given year leads to an eight percent drop in that person’s liklihood of reporting a violent crime, the study claimed.