A major victory in the fight against the the NYPD’s discriminatory stop-and-frisk tactics was won today, as a judge ordered the department to halt a practice that allowed officers to patrol and make arrests in certain privately-owned Bronx apartment buildings. The practice, known as Operation Clean Halls, has led to several trespassing stops for residents inside their own buildings. According to judge Shira Scheindlin, who made the ruling, “an inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch” is not enough reason for a police officer to make a stop.
The decision is relatively narrow, affecting only the Bronx’s Clean Halls buildings, but the implications are wide for the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk at large. “Today’s decision is a major step toward dismantling the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk regime,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, which filed the lawsuit that prompted the ruling. “Operation Clean Halls has placed New Yorkers, mostly black and Latino, under siege in their own homes in thousands of apartment buildings. This aggressive assault on people’s constitutional rights must be stopped.”
NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn concurred. “With today’s ruling, the federal court has stated loudly and clearly that a major part of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program is unconstitutional and that the time has come for the courts to order a halt to illegal stops,” he said. “If New York City has any sense, it will use this ruling as an opportunity to start a wholesale reform of stop-and-frisk.”