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New York wrongly targeted minorities, judge rules

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Published Aug. 13, 2013

NEW YORK — The nation's largest police department illegally and systematically singled out large numbers of blacks and Hispanics under its controversial stop-and-frisk policy, a federal judge ruled Monday while appointing a monitor to oversee major changes.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will appeal the ruling, which was a stinging rebuke to a policy he and the New York Police Department have defended as a life-saving, crime-fighting tool that helped lead the city to historic crime lows. The legal outcome could affect how and whether other cities employ the tactic.

"The city's highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner," U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote in her ruling.

Stop-and-frisk has been around for decades in some form, but recorded stops increased dramatically under the Bloomberg administration to an all-time high in 2011 of 684,330, most involving black or Hispanic men. A lawsuit was filed in 2004 by four men, all minorities, and became a class-action case.

The judge appointed Peter Zimroth, the city's former lead attorney and previously a chief assistant district attorney, as the monitor. She directed him to develop reforms to policies, training, supervision and discipline with input from affected communities.

She also ordered a pilot program in which officers test body-worn cameras in one precinct per borough to provide objective records of the encounters.