After nine weeks of trial, lawyers on both sides of the federal case over the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program finally summed up on Monday, and now, it's up to the judge to rule on whether the tactic amounts to racial profiling. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Some of the men suing the New York City Police Department to change stop-and-frisk were in court Monday to hear their lawyers' closing arguments.
"You stop someone for going to Starbucks, is that stopping crime?" said Nicholas Peart, who is suing the NYPD. "Ninety percent of those stopped, they're not finding anything. That's alarming, and it's a failed policy."
Their lawyers are trying to convince the judge to put in place some sort of outside monitor to oversee stop-and-frisk. They argue that the crime-fighting strategy is based on racial profiling, something city lawyers strongly deny.
But figures showing that nearly 90 percent of the people who were stopped, questioned and frisked were black or Latino and found not to have broken any laws doesn't sit well with Judge Shira Scheindlin.
The city said that officers stop people when's there's reasonable suspicion. The judge told them, "What troubles me is that the suspicion is wrong 90 percent of the time. That's a high error rate."
The NYPD said its goal is to keep all New Yorkers safe by looking for crimes.
"You will see more suspicious activity in poor neighborhoods because there's more crime there," said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne. "But that's based on protecting people who are the most vulnerable in this city. That's where we're putting our resources. There's some societies who put all of their sources in rich neighborhoods and let the poor go to hell. We don't do that."
Secret recordings of police supervisors made by two officers, however, may suggest that officers have been told to target blacks, and that could sway the judge.
During the last year and a half, the police department said it has revamped training on stop-and-frisk to address community concerns. That's something the judge may be considering as well.
She asked those suing, "If a defendant has already corrected itself, is there a problem? That's the question I have to ask myself."
Judge Scheindlin said she wants to make a prompt decision on the important issue, but wouldn't say when that would be.