According to the NYPD, stopping and frisking people reduces crime. It’s an effective strategy for making the streets safer. According to the people they stop, it’s not only unfair, it’s a violation of their 4th Amendment rights and it’s racist. That violation of rights is the basis of a class action lawsuit against the city, a lawsuit that was just granted class action status by a federal judge.
The case involves people being stopped outside of buildings involved in the Trespass Affadavit Program (TAP). This is a program that property owners (owners of apartment buildings specifically) entered into willingly and voluntarily.
You see, in order for the police to make “stop and frisk” legitimate, they have to be able to demonstrate there was reasonable suspicion that the person was engaged in criminal activity. The TAP program and something known as “Operation Clean Halls” mistakenly says everyone who is on the premises of a participating building is potentially trespassing.
The NYPD is said to stop people entering and exiting these buildings and even passing by them. But they aren’t only stopping guests and potential trespassers, but residents and anyone else they feel like.
On January 8, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin placed a hold on the searches under Operation Clean Halls but she lifted that order on Jan. 22 while the city pursues appeals.
Five thousand buildings are a part of the TAP-Operation Clean Halls program. This means that thousands upon thousands of innocent people have been stopped and searched while inside or within the proximity of these buildings.
This particular class action lawsuit was brought by some of those people, tired of being stopped for no good reason simply because of their presence at a participating building. Another class action lawsuit against the city alleges the stop and frisk program of being a “’top-down’ city-wide policy of stopping and frisking people without suspicion—a practice that plaintiffs allege disproportionately targets young black and Latino men.”
For their part, the NYPD still insists that stopping and frisking innocent people reduces crime. They argue that the neighborhood you’re in (if it’s a high crime one) is justification enough for a stop. And although they won’t admit it, it seems they believe the color of your skin is also justification enough.
It seems the NYPD will hold onto their policy of “randomly” stopping and searching innocent people, until they are blocked from doing so. But, this doesn’t mean their searches are legal.
If you’ve been arrested after a stop and frisk or if the cops allege you committed a drug offense, assault, or robbery, we may be able to help. Contact our office today to discuss your case.