Will the Stop-and-Frisk Lawsuit Lead to a Federal Monitor for the NYPD?


Maybe the parts of the Community Safety Act that debuted on the council floor yesterday won’t even be necessary. In an exclusive report by the Daily News last night, it’s been discovered that Attorney General Eric Holder and his Justice Department are thinking about asking the trial judge on Floyd v. New York–the case in motion downtown that questions the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk–to assign an inspector general to oversee the NYPD’s actions should the practice be overturned. A controversy so bad, even Washington might get involved.

Now, the arguments in Floyd v. New York ended on May 20; by that time, the claims of racial bias by civil rights prosecutors and the defenses of weird tutorial videos by NYPD lawyers had already been made. During the time of the proceedings, Holder’s Justice Department showed no intention to intervene in a case involving a policy strictly limited to the New York jurisdiction. It was none of Washington’s business until about … yesterday.

According to the NYDN, city officials received a phone call from Thomas Perez, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for civil rights. It was Perez who transmitted Holder’s message to City Hall, which was, simply put, “We’re watching you”–a sentiment that seems to be the central theme of the Obama White House over the past two weeks. Also, apparently on Monday, Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD commish Ray Kelly spoke with Holder and told him his plan to intervene was absolute BS. Not surprising, given their opposition to the Community Safety Act, too.

It remains to be seen how this plan, if Holder actually goes through with it, will affect the Community Safety Act, which calls for an NYPD monitor. Manhattan federal judge Shira Sheindlin is in charge of the case. Should she decide to overturn stop-and-frisk, she’ll be the one choosing who she’d want for the federal IG position with the support of the Justice Department.

But still, a month after the case closed, we have yet to hear Shiendlin’s decision. One step at a time here, OK?