Judge halts “stop-and-frisk” searches at some Bronx buildings

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You might not be able to imagine a police officer stopping and questioning you on the street while doing something as mundane as taking the garbage out of your own home.

And while Tuesday’s federal court decision officially banned that practice, Bronx residents are skeptical as to what it will mean in the street.

Mark Banks says he’s lived in this Bronx neighborhood for thirty years and adds that, for much of that time, he’s maintained a less-than-enjoyable relationship with NYPD patrol officers.CleanHalls

“Are they gonna stop frisking kids, especially grown men my age?  That’s unacceptable. You get off of work (and) get frisked trying to go into your building,” Banks told Pix11.

Banks hopes those days are over, thanks to Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin.

She issued a ruling Tuesday that says the NYPD’s practice of stopping people suspected of trespassing,  outside private buildings in the Bronx is unconstitutional.

Under the “Trespass Affidavit Program” – also known as the “Clean Halls” program building owners invited the police to patrol their buildings.

Alexis Karteron says Judge Scheindlin ruled that invitation does not extend to stop and frisks outside – on the sidewalk.

“We are opposed to stop and frisk in the way it’s been implemented by the NYPD in recent years. Because what it’s meant is that people who are just going about their daily lives are interrupted, put against the wall, are forced to justify their presence on the street corner, or sometimes in their own home – and it’s just a gross violation of people’s constitutional rights,” said Karteron.

Judge Scheindlin found “…the NYPD’s inaccurate training has taught officers the following lesson: stop and question first, develop reasonable suspicion later.”

The judge also found it noteworthy that the Bronx DA’s office went on the record in the case to fault how the NYPD implemented stop and frisk on the street:

“I find ADA Rucker’s testimony credible. It is no small matter when an ADA publicly suggests that the NYPD has been engaged in a recurring pattern of unlawful stops. Such testimony is entitled to significant weight.”

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told Pix11 that under the “Clean Halls’ program, officers have worked to provide a sense of safety – based on the landlords’ request – for less prosperous tenants who do not have a doorman. Quote:

“The NYPD is fully committed to doing so in a manner that respects the constitutional rights of residents and visitors. Today’s decision unnecessarily interferes with the Department’s efforts to use all of the crime fighting tools necessary to keep ‘Clean Halls’ buildings safe and secure.”

Back on East 163rd street, Mark Banks acknowledges there is a fine line between effectively fighting crime and violating someone’s rights.

Banks told PIX11, “some people do need to be stopped, and frisked. But not everyone. Not everyone deserves that – like you. You don’t deserve that. Do you?”

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