NEW YORK (AP) — The new mayor on Thursday delivered on his promise to reform stop-and-frisk police tactics, agreeing to the appointment of a monitor and seeking to end a 14-year court fight that culminated in a judge's ruling that New York City had discriminated in carrying out the crime-reduction program.
"We believe these steps will make everyone safer," Mayor Bill de Blasio told a Brooklyn news conference shortly after city lawyers asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to return the case to the lower court "for the purpose of exploring a full resolution."
He added: "This will be one city where everyone rises together, where everyone's rights are protected."
He said the city agreed to the appointment of a monitor for three years to oversee the creation of reforms aimed at ending discrimination. The monitor will oversee a process in which those communities most affected by the stop-and-frisk tactics will provide input on the reforms.
"I can't wait to get started," said Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented plaintiffs in the lawsuits.
But he cautioned that the announcement did not mean discrimination would immediately end.
"Nobody standing here today is pretending this is mission accomplished. The problem hasn't been solved," he said. "We will have a collaborative reform process. We'll have a court monitor to ensure these reforms move forward."
Police Commissioner William Bratton said the policy as it had been carried out for years had left too many people who were frisked asking, "Why, why me?" while police officers being pressed to make ever more arrests even as crime rates fell dramatically were wondering, "Why more?"
He said the practice had torn the fabric between the police and the population. "We need to repair it," he said.
A judge ruled last year that the New York Police Department had discriminated against blacks and Hispanics when stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking people on the street. The judge ordered major reforms to the department's implementation of the policy.
Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg appealed the decision. But de Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year, had made settling the stop-and-frisk issue a major component of his campaign.